First day of 2018 means two things to me: clean out some corners and consider becoming a more successful human. We’ll start with the corners first.
Since all our children moved out years ago, we have a couple of extra rooms. One room actually has two names, for some time now it has been called the “beach room” because it was once decorated in a manner that reminded some of a beach hut, a light, airy and sunny room.
“Where are the scissors?” “They’re in the beach room.”
However, before that title, it was and still sometimes referred to as, the “warm room.” We live in an old house with an oddly engineered heating system. During the winter, the living room, dining room, kitchen and back bedroom gets cold and the central heating system just doesn’t do a very good job of evenly dispersing the heat. But, in the “warm room” you could walk around naked in the coldest day of winter and still be warm. However, step out into the hallway and you might instantly get icicles on your private parts.
The other extra room is my pay the bills and make music room and toss anything that doesn’t have its own place into it room, usually called, “Gary’s room.” Books, guitars including a 6 string, 12 string, electric, and bass, soap making supplies, photo albums, golf stuff, hats, coats, drums, cds, vinyl albums, maps, ironing board, two keyboards, 6 harmonicas, 2 drums, old family dishes, summer clothes, winter clothes, shoes, sandals, slippers, boots, photo albums, medical testing equipment, mandolin, drawing instruments, sunglasses, hats of all sorts, belts and about 50 other items all reside in “Gary’s room.” Obviously when guests are over, we try to keep that room closed – which is not easy because the door nob decided that 64 years is long enough to work properly. Every two weeks I do a superficial cleanup, which means I move shit from one place in the room to another place in the room. Today, however, it was different though. I initiated a complete relocation project.
Downstairs we have a basement room with no formal ceiling, so we call it the “cabin.” Occasionally friends come over and we play poker in the cabin. Lately we’ve been going to junk stores and finding tables, writing desks, and other used stuff for the cabin. The “cabin” also has a little wood stove in it. There is some exercise equipment in the cabin too that for some reason looks brand new from lack of use. But, like I said it is the first day of 2018 and time for those resolutions! The cabin is now the new location for much of the clutter from “Gary’s room” with the assistance of a bookcase I forgot we owned that was in the corner of a cluttered garage. (God, I am a pig.)
As I was de-cluttering “Gary’s room” to clutter the cabin, I started thinking what my resolutions might be when I ran across a little book I read some time ago, “Finite and Infinite Games” by James Carse. It was really quite an interesting book, but at the time I read it, I was conflicted with Carse’s message and my religious upbringing. Now Mr. Carse is a gazillion times smarter than I am and sometimes he lost me with his ideas, but in a nutshell he suggests that finite games, the ones that are over once a winner is declared are far less interesting than infinite games. Think office politics, or hell, any kind of politics. Infinite games are played for the sheer joy of it. There is no beginning and no end. Very few of us live with an infinite game mindset.
As I looked at that little book in my hand, I started wondering about my New Years’ Resolutions. They were going to be the following:
- Go fishing at least 20 times in 2018. (Which I guess is kind of a lousy goal if you happen to be a fish.)
- Read at least 20 books in 2018. I enjoy big historical biographies, so I might have to change it up some or I will only get 3 books read.
- Play 20 rounds of golf in 2018.
- Fuck the weight problem.
However, then I thought, “These are really finite goals. Who cares if I read 20 books, play golf 20 times, and go fishing 1.6666666667 times a month? Will I be happier? Will I be more successful? What am I really trying to do? Am I just just moving shit from one spot to another, but the room is still a mess in 48 hours?” (I know, I know, isn’t it strange how I tie such disparate ideas together such as a cluttered room and resolutions?)
You know I write songs, right? Maybe you don’t know that I earned a Master’s Degree in Accountancy a long time ago too. Kind of a weird combo. My brain loves numbers that provide a finite answer and in accounting that answer must be in balance… good old debits and credits. Perfect. However this obsession with numbers gets in the way with my music and yet pleases me so much too, like the “warm room” on the winter solstice. Soundcloud, that platform I post my music on, is a great little accountant – it keeps track of lots of numbers regarding my songs…and it ruins them too. One day, nobody in the entire world, listened to a single song of mine and oddly, it felt really good. It felt liberating to just put your creative ideas out there and know that nobody had an opinion about them. It felt infinite and that feeling came from a different place than the finite feeling I get with all the data collected regarding my music. It isn’t just music I have this finite problem with. If I plant tomatoes, I plant 60 plants. Why? I don’t know, 59 just didn’t feel right. I could go on and on with my issues with the finite. The other day I had two wrist watches on. Don’t even get me started about Fantasy Football, it is damn finite orgy.
So what should I do about those New Year’s resolutions? I think in 2018 I am just going to try to stop focusing so much on the attributes and the traits and the numbers and the finality of a “human being” and be more aware of the “being” part. Yes, let’s go fishing, not as an accomplishment, but being part of the infinite. (I do catch and release. Well, I used to anyway. I didn’t go fishing once last year.) Let’s read, not to reach a finite number of books read, but for the infinite that is shared in biographies and amazing stories of imagination. (By the way, I am going to hold Goodreads partially responsible due to their annual reading goals.) Play golf, not to concentrate on the silly little series of numbers which usually add up to over a 100, but to be outdoors with gratitude.
Enough about me. May your 2018 be a year of infinite possibilities. I hope you have a joyful, loving, healthy year.