IS IT TOO EARLY to start thinking about my 2012 wrap-up? I know we’ve still got some time left. Much as I try to live in the moment, I can’t help it: I really like looking back and planning ahead. But, rather than go through the year’s greatest hits — I’ll save that for another post — I’m going to look at the looking at: reflecting on reflecting on 2012.
It would be easy to say this has been a way better year than 2011, a year that famously kicked my ass, but I wonder how much that has to do with a change in my perspective rather than it being objectively a much better year. Because it really is all in your mind.
I liked the way the story of 2011 hung together as a kind of disaster movie. It made for entertaining reading and storytelling. But was it really that bad? And was this year all that different? For that matter, is any year? A lot of what I experienced in 2011, the good and the bad, I experienced again in 2012: a cancer diagnosis and operation and all-clear, Mona eating her pills or not, Mona crapping on the carpet, work stuff, being single, good sex, good books, feeling down, feeling happy, finding peace of mind, soul-searching, travel, parties, family and friends, writing, meditation, records on the turntable, good things and bad things happening to people I love…
I could go on and on, trying to convince you that it was an incredible year, but, as I say about the music I like to play, what year isn’t? (Incredibly good, incredibly bad, incredibly average, take your pick. Granted, the election this year was incredibly rockin’, so there’s that.)
It just goes to show we all have ups and downs in our lives all the time. It’s pretty crazy, if you ask me, to talk in terms of good years and bad years. Hell, I think it’s crazy to talk about good days and bad days. Sure, things happen that we can’t control, but we get to choose the stories. Why declare a day or month or year a disaster, especially if it isn’t over yet? Every moment is a new one. And why create a story around it that looks at just one side, especially the bad side?
Drama, that’s why. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. Maybe we want to at least make some fortune out of our misfortune by cashing in on the disaster-movie screenplay, figuratively or not. Yes, bad things happen. Are we surprised? Good things, too. It’s life.
I had a friend who seemed to be always upset or worried or overwhelmed by life, and his life was not drastically different from mine or that of anyone else in our circle. His problems were not that spectacular; he just had a hard time coping, seemed to love the drama at least a little, and chose to focus on the negative. I hope he’s able to change that someday.
I choose to focus mainly on the good — and most of it is good — neither because I want to brag about how awesome my life is in a Facebook-y sort of way (although I do think my life is pretty damn awesome) nor because I’m in denial about the huge problems in the world, but because that’s the way I choose to see things. I don’t have huge problems myself. I really don’t. Challenges, sure. I’m happy.
Choose to enjoy life. I know that might sound overly simplistic, but for the vast majority of people, it really is that simple. Assuming your basic needs for food, water, air, and shelter are taken care of — probably the case if you are on the Internet — life does not have to be such a struggle. If you don’t believe me, try it sometime: focus on the good in your life, and question your concept of “problems.” Question what’ll bring you happiness, too, while you’re at it. Do it ’til you’re satisfied. You’ll be happier. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can always go back to the grind.