A Thousand Stories

Well, here we are at the end of 2017. In a year where it felt like my head was spinning 24/7, my year-end thoughts aren’t any more organized, but I would like to take the opportunity to throw out a semi-organized rant. With that in mind:

2017 – what a cluster fuck!

It’s not that there weren’t any good things at all. To me it seems that it’s the contrast between the highs and lows that was the killer. The highs were higher but fewer and further between. (The August total solar eclipse, “Hamilton,” seeing Depeche Mode at the Hollywood Bowl, to name a few.)

Meanwhile, the lows were just unrelenting and grim on several fronts. Both my day job and my volunteer job at the CAF had time and workload pressures all year that were like trying to stuff ten pounds of pickles into a five-pound pickle bag.

Over everything was the current US political and social crises. Looking back at the year in that light, the “good” news is that the economy hasn’t collapsed and we haven’t gotten involved in a nuclear war. But on both topics there’s a feeling of impending doom and the fear that the next word in the conversation is “yet!”

When that’s your standard for “good,” i.e., not having thirty or forty million people unemployed or not having three hundred or four hundred million people dead, it’s hard to feel giddy about the accomplishment.

Personally, one comment stood out and has stuck with me as I’ve been spinning and trying to juggle priorities with too little time, too little sleep, too little money, and too much stress. At one point this year, while trying to sort through priorities at work, my boss commented something to the effect of, “You probably have a thousand stories written, but none of them have a final chapter.

That stung – particularly because it hit so close to home. She was offering an honest, constructive criticism and I never thought that she meant it literally. (I don’t even know if she knows that I write or have written.) But in the broader sense she’s absolutely correct – at home, at work, and at the CAF I do have dozens and dozens of various ongoing tasks at any given point and it often takes forever to actually get them finished. Some never get finished, just dropped to the wayside, with the intent to get back to them “soon.”

So while I won’t be making any New Year’s resolutions (for all the reasons that make them artificial and useless and a waste of time) I will be trying to remember to be more focused and to always be more conscious of the “finish line” in any project.

For example, largely due to time pressure, there are a dozens of “loose threads” with articles I’ve written here. Have I shown any more of my series of travel pictures lately? A quick search shows that my New York pictures had parts #14 and #15 posted in April, part #16 posted in May, and part #17 posted in July. Since then…crickets.

What’s up with that?

Did I ever share the full stories and pictures and video from the eclipse in August? That would be a big, fat “no!”

Focus.

I’ve written about running marathons and how I’ve found it to be about 33% physical and 66% mental. If you do the training, you know that you can run that far and you have a decent idea of what sort of time you can accomplish, along with a goal that you would like to push yourself to. Despite that, there will be a dozen times (or a hundred) along the course where your body just wants to quit. Your brain is being assaulted by stimuli and pain and it would be just a short jog along the path of least resistance to simply pull over and get on one of those buses that will take you back to the finish line.

But mentally, you have to have trained yourself to Keep. Going. Anyway.

You know that the finish line is out there and until you reach it, you Will. Not. Stop.

One of the things I found after starting to run was that I could use that same mental ability in other, non-physical aspects of life. Such as handling an overwhelming work load or an impossible deadline.

I’m not doing that now.

In both the physical (running) and the non-physical (getting a project done) worlds, it’s a pain in the ass, a full on horrible bitch of a time when you’re in it. You HATE it. But it is so incredibly satisfying when you hit that finish line, even more so if you’re able to meet or exceed your goals. So while you swear during the process that you will NEVER do this again, that sense of accomplishment will call you back. Especially if it’s something like work or something you’re passionate about. You’re going to be doing it (or have to be doing it) anyway, so why not set a goal, hit it, and get the self-satisfaction of the accomplishment?

I haven’t run in a while. I’ve lost that discipline, and it shows in several ways, most of which I’m not satisfied or happy with. I need to get it back.

Focus. Regain that “runner’s mentality.” Reach those finish lines.

Write those final chapters.

Even if that doesn’t help get rid of the festering cancers we have in Washington and their legions of vile sycophants that are now crawling out from under the rocks where they’ve been hiding, at least I’ll be in better shape to fight them, both mentally, physically, and financially.

Kick 2018’s ass!

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Filed under Paul, Politics, Running, Writing

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