No matter where you're from, it seems the first snow of the year is always enchanting. There's a beauty to it. A magic. A newness.
Then, it gets old fast. Like "an old bitch gone in the teeth," to shamelessly steal from Ezra Pound.
New Year's Resolutions
It's not unlike the resolutions we hastily make up under the influence of an after dinner drink and think on new year's eve.
You are going to be a writer. Or blogger. Or lose weight. Or eat better.
You are going to finally get right with God. Or start that business. Or quit that job. Or get that job. Or run a half marathon. Or run a half marathon to get right with God after you get that job and quit the other one.
When you resolve to begin something new, there's a newness, an excitement, a hope that exists. You are a lone ranger setting out to explore and claim new territory. (Even if it's only new to you.)
That moment of intent hope is a sacred moment.
However, you soon find that the alone-ness turns to loneliness. Inevitably you discover that it's just you and your resolution. Until, like the snow, it grows old, cold and cramped.
You realize no one cares what you are doing. Even those who say they support you, merely support you with words spit from the side of their distracted mouths.
No one cares. No one shows. No one shares.
This is when and where the real work begins. This is the moment that separates the professionals from the dilettantes.
This, too, is a sacred moment. It's a moment the giddy buzz of blind ambition wears off, and all you have left is God, yourself and a job to do.
A Poet's Story
I've always aspired to be a poet. I don't expect to be the Poet Laureate of anything, but I've always wanted to earn publication in some of the most respected literary journals. I've been unsuccessful for over 10 years now.
For ten years I've been submitting poems to journals and, with the exception of some minor form poetry, I have only received rejection letters. This may sound shocking, but it's not. It's quite common.
Despite my ongoing failures in poetry, I am developing into a good craftsman. I sense it. I study and read a lot, so I know how I compare to what's getting published. I am learning how the literary world works, and realize that I am working toward a goal that is the literary equivalent of winning the lottery (from a statistical perspective).
But I will never quit.
I will never quit because, regardless how often or where I get published, I am a poet. As often as I've tried to quit, I simply can't. I am driven to dig a well from which others can drink. Even if it's just a handful of others.
I live with plenty of shoulds. I should eat better. I should exercise more. I should make more money.
I live with lots of coulds too. I could spend more time reading, watching shows, etc. I could also test more business ventures.
But these shoulds and coulds will get me stuck if I let them. If they become resolutions, they will occupy space in my life.
"Resolution" means "firm determination." It's not a hope. It's not a destination. It's a to-hell-with-everything commitment. It's a lifestyle.
What are you living to become? That's the question you should be asking yourself.
I resolve to live as a poet. To see the familiar in unfamiliar ways. To find the extraordinary hiding in the ordinary. To pull beauty from the clutter, chaos and cellulite in and around us.
My advice to you is this: don't make resolutions this year.
Instead, resolve to do one thing with the rest of your life. Resolve to live a certain way. And start practicing that every day.
The enchantment will fade. You will eventually find yourself alone like the snow-dusted tree above that I photographed on Christmas Day. But you won't get perpetually or permanently stuck, because you are not chasing a silly pipedream.
You are preparing for the first snow. Even if, like a white Christmas in Atlanta (or publishing in The Southern Review), it's 128 years in the making.
Photo Note: I shot that photo of a Japanese maple on my parent's property Christmas Day. I didn't have the right lens to capture what I really wanted, but I still love how the picture turned out.
Now it's your turn!
What are you resolving to be in life?
How will you practice being that in 2011?