Spending so much of my off time this year writing about negative things, I decided to begin writing about positive and hopeful subjects in an effort to evolve last year’s sarcasm into a brighter theme for the remainder of the year. Perhaps a new theme every year might be in order, maybe not. Let’s just see where this takes us. That said, my last blog was about thinking outside the box. Honestly, I was just writing my thoughts on the matter to my son who always surprises me with his intuitiveness but in the end I thought others might enjoy my journalistic journeys in the same way that people sometimes enjoy watching bloopers on television or turtles getting stuck upside-down.
What I optimistically think I will end up with are short but insightful vignettes of life. The ramblings, mid-life assumptions and truths of “my-world” honed by experience, tribulations and incredibly stupid decisions. Since everyone knows I am fond of assigning short and pointed phrases or words that get right to my points or ideas (laughing), I have decided for the remainder of 2014 to have a one-word theme: GROW.
At this age, one never enjoys wishing away time, but for me, I couldn’t be more ready for 2014 to end and for 2015 to begin. Adopting this one-word theme may, in some way, help to guide us through the next four months, embarking on a new year with enthusiasm and gratitude for having survived 2014. This year has been one of my most challenging — certainly not what I had envisioned when I was thinking about the context of my New Year’s resolution, because I had not bothered to think about this year’s elections. Who would have imagined how I would have been thrust into such a thing, nor how I would have reacted? I guess I’m growing as a person and a reprobate all at the same time.
It seems unfair to me that experience, in some situations, actually does more to stifle a good time than to play saxophone for it. When you’re 20, life is all conga’s and bongo’s; at 50, it’s a tambourine baby. Now even the perpetually young Dick Clark has euphemistically walked-the-plank of the USS Minnow along with dozens of my other childhood benchmarks, all being replaced by their Generation X versions of which I seem less and less connected. Growth is not always appealing.
While there were some amazing highs in 2012 and 2013 like finally seeing Hawaii with Emily or her and me vacationing with my son in Europe, the emotional investment of an online inquisition has pretty much deflated my hot air balloon. Although 75% of people loved it, 25% are now my sworn enemies. But the canvas of 2015 is yet before us. Whatever images or color palette that make their way onto the tautly stretched fabric of our lives will come from how well we interpret our subjects and how we position our brushes for the down stroke. The main idea is that we are growing our works. We may have to sidestep or even back up occasionally but we’re moving and improving nonetheless.
A decidedly up-hill year like this can either break or make you stronger, and I feel confident I will be falling into the latter group. Though, of course, nothing worthwhile comes easy. Happiness, a basic human desire, cannot be obtained without emotional and intellectual growth and maturity. For this type of emotional growth to occur, we need to teach ourselves to be more expressive of our feelings and come to terms with whatever outcomes rise ahead. Intellectual growth is best achieved by expanding your knowledge through cultural, technical, professional and scholastic endeavors. If you are not pushing yourself into uncomfortable places, you’re probably not growing. Being open to new ideas, learning new skills, considering opposing views, involving yourself in the community, reading books or attending lectures, art exhibits or traveling to faraway places to experience alternative cultures can all provide great opportunities to grow.
How we react to challenges and obstacles can really define us? If you’re unable to rationally respond to a mini-crisis, then you could benefit from a broader perspective. Perspective and perception are so important in approaching life’s big and little challenges. Most of what we hear from others are opinions, not facts. Everything we see is a perspective, not necessarily truth. So don’t let others control your direction. Grow your perspective through experiences of every kind so that what you see is closer to reality and stop giving other people the power to set your limitations. If you take the time to listen to good and bad, real and fake, truth and lies…you will grow.
I love GROW because it encompasses many different types of improvements — the continued development of our religion, education, relationships with family, our children, grandchildren and spouses, a new or evolving professional direction or talent, or just the intimate relationship with ourselves. I also like GROW because the concept is closely related to increases instead of losses. Much as I would love to slam the door shut on 2014 and never open it again, I know this year’s events will continue to influence me in 2015 and beyond . . . and that is never a bad thing. That indeed is the very concept of growth isn’t it?
So bring it on, 2015, because you when you get here, we will potentially be armed with an entirely new one-word theme. I’m just not sure what it will be yet.