Setting Goals

Looking ahead to 2011, I have to admit I’m pretty eager to welcome it in. This may be one of the first years in a long time I won’t feel any depression on New Year’s Eve, I’ve hated so much of this past year.

I do have goals for the new year. In fact, my interest in blogging has finally returned (you may have not even noticed it went anywhere, but trust me, it did) and that includes making it a lot more manageable while finding new ways to keep it interesting and align more closely to my goals.

So here are a few of my goals….
1) Blog more here. I have so much I want to write about but I’m often bogged down with book blog related things. I have a major goal of making the book blog more focused and concentrated so that I’m not busy attending to about a million other things. Additionally, I hope to do a better job of delegating the tasks involved in things like BBAW and the INSPYS so that they don’t eat up my time. Nicole and I have already agreed to cut back on the number of podcasts we do, so that will also be a huge help. Changing the format of the Faith and Fiction round table will also free up a bunch of time, and I think that group is going to be awesome.

2) Figure out a way to live. Ha! I need a job. This one is obvious.

3) Write fiction. This is something I just need to make myself do!

4) Diversify my interests. Hmm. This one was a goal I had last year and failed miserably. Somehow I need to find some more hobbies that will keep my interest.

5) Keep in touch with people I like. I’m terrible at this, with people who don’t use my preferred means of social media. I need to do a better job of updating facebook and not retreating into a hole when I feel down.

I have some goals in regards to reading, but I plan to work on that when I get back to my shelves and can look at them.

How about you all? Any goals?

Thoughts

Yesterday I happened to catch someone blogging about the trailer for The Tree of Life. Film is one area I don’t keep up with what’s in development, unless it’s a book adaptation. (like The Hunger Games) I had never heard of it.

I watched it and was stunned. I can’t remember the last time I remember someone doing such beautiful things with imagery in film. The kind of shots that just pop without 3-D enhancement, that feel real like you could touch it or somehow feel it. That actually make me feel like I’m getting a different perspective. I’m not explaining this very well, but it was almost a spiritual experience for me. Of course the music and the quotes helped, particularly “Someday we’ll fall down and weep. And we’ll understand it all. All things” Also apparently it takes place in the Midwest, where I grew up, what I think of as home, if I were to have a home. And it’s a coming of age story. These factors all gave me an emotional connection. And yes I know that movie trailers are so famous for giving us chills and the experience of a story in just a few minutes. But this felt different. I proceeded to watch it about 20 times.

And then I saw someone tweet, “The Tree of Life: The most awesome trailer ever or the most pretentious?” And another person vote for it being pretentious. It almost hurt me! And it just goes to show there really is no objective standard in measuring art.

I can never really figure out where I fall on this spectrum. I love beautiful serious things but I also love fun lighter works and feel they should be taken more seriously. I don’t love everything in either category, but I constantly feel irritated by comments against one or the other.

And this is off topic but what does it mean to be earnest? I’ve seen this used as quite the insult (and I suspect directed at me) and it’s been bugging me all year. I just recently read it in a book review (as a negative thing) and I have a sneaking suspicion it might be closely related to this other thing that drives me nuts.

The Challenge of Love

Recently I devoured the BBC show Survivors in two days . The show is about a group of people who survive a flu virus that wipes out 99% of the world’s population. A hodge podge group of unrelated people band together to form a new sort of family (you know I’m a huge sucker for that kind of story) and among them is an ex-convict. While he does many things to protect them throughout the events of the world, you know, ending, many of them harbor suspicion and mistrust of him. At one point, he kills a man who kidnaps one of them in cold blood. For a long while, Abby, the main character, tells herself he did it because he had to, it was self-defense. Well he ends up on trial in the cobbled together government and is found guilty. As the other survivors gather together to try to figure out what to do, Abby tells one of the men who was particularly suspicious of Tom (the ex-con) “you were right.” She goes on to explain that she was so desperate that he fit her conception of what was good, she had told herself it was an act of self-defense. But that no longer matters. She accepts him as he is, one of them.

This is something I’ve really been thinking about this year. I’ve realized I have a tendency to sort of “approve of people” based on whether or not they line up with my own preferred ideals. Sometimes when they express ideas I don’t like, I feel an irrational surge of irritation. As if the world was composed of ideas and not people. As if I was perfect.

I think one of the very hardest things to accept is that people never just get to be the way they are by chance. Everyone is formed, with experiences and relationships that are not my own. There are reasons they feel the way they do and act the way they do. Every bit of who they are is as real as every bit of who I am. There isn’t a single one of us blameless in the game of hurting one another, there isn’t a single one of us who has it exactly right.

It reminded me of a post on Donald Miller’s blog earlier this year. It was called, “I’d Rather Be Hated than Loved with Conditions.

Consider this,

I’d rather be hated than loved with conditions. I think most people would agree. At least when people hate you, they are being intellectually honest. I mean you know where they stand. But we’ve all shared a political view or a struggle and had people take a half step back, or worse, reveal they no longer want the best for us. When this happens I get a hollow feeling and I associate that hollow feeling with the person and their ideas. So that begs the question, do we actually love our friends without conditions? Are we the kind of friend we hope to have? Ultimately, loving people conditionally is an attempt to control them. We are wrongly thinking that if we can make people “pay” for their faults, or their opinions that don’t match ours, they will have a negative association with their faults or their supposedly wrong opinions. But that’s not the way it works.

(emphasis mine)

I guess what I’m saying is while I do think we should share our ideas, opinions, knowledge, and education, in the end it’s really about how we love one another and respect each other. For exactly who we are.

After all, I can think intellectually my ideals are all about love but if I’m not actually loving anyone or only loving people who agree with me, well then…
you know what Paul said. Clanging cymbal. Resounding gong.

About Christmas

Christmas is a mixed bag for me.

While I love the season, the lights, the music, the meaning, the cheer, there isn’t a Christmas that passes that I don’t also struggle with more depression than usual. The end of a calendar year is a time for reflection and the darkest days of the year are when we choose to celebrate a birth that ultimately meant a death.

This year has been difficult in a variety of ways, I lost my job, my home, and even some of my friends. I let hope have a birth in my heart various times only to be strangled in death. I’ve been confronted again and again with the ugliness inside myself and the realization that I’m not the person I thought I was. Everything is so uncertain for me right now and I feel like I’m bumbling along making one poor decision after another. How’s that for honesty?

It’s times like this when I realize that I need Christmas. I need to be able to believe the heart of Christmas…I am not alone. I am not forgotten. At these times, it has nothing to do with the gift giving, or the festivities. The music, while soothing, is not everything. The food and decorations are lovely, but really what I need, what Christmas reminds me, deep in my heart is that even in the very darkest of days, a light still burns.

Christmas—the end of the year–is a chance to take stock of that which is our lives…in all of it’s goodness, its sorrow, its unexpected disappointments, its joy and its sadness. And for me…it’s also the chance to choose to believe what Julian of Norwich said was right, “And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well”

(*I’m working on a version of this post for my post on the advent tour…just so you know if I seem like I’m repeating myself)