One of the few things that has continued on with this site, as the blogging/journaling has almost completely dried up and my writing work now mostly lives in other places, is this annual tradition of choosing a word for the year.
It what I instead of a full resolution, less a goal and more a tone I want to set for the year and a vibe I want to achieve.
I don’t always remember the word itself as the year goes on, but it’s usually tied to a larger set of ideas I I want to pursue. I’m bad at five-year plans. But I can pick a word that I want to represent where I want to be.
Guess what the word was for 2016. Just take a guess. I’ll hang out for a second.
Would you believe it was “Joyful?”
I have some friends who started businesses and wrote books and got married or had a kid for the first time, and they would tell you that their year was pretty great overall. But for most of the rest of us, 2016 was kind of shit on toast, and not the nice 12-grain toast that absorbs butter like a black hole, I’m talking about some hardened, stale, crusty Melba toast shit.
No one close in my family or circle of friends died, though there were a few close calls. But I suffered the same hurt feelings over pop culture heroes falling left and right. And politically, of course, it was just an ugly, brutal year for truth, for decency, for us to wonder how the fuck we got to this point. As the year wore on, it was clear that for a lot of us, we were going to remember it as anything but joyful.
Still writing RIP on all my checks.
— Omar L. Gallaga (@omarg) January 1, 2017
But, I remember that post and the feeling of going into 2016 wanting to be less in my own head and more out there experiencing things joyfully and in the moment. And in that regard, it was kind of a great year. I made a conscious effort to go to music concerts and not watch them from behind my cell phone screen shooting photos or video. I took a trip to Las Vegas where I did a bunch of stuff I’ve never done before like indoor skydiving, betting on a professional sports game (I won!) and seeing two professional stage performers twist their penises and balls into interesting shapes. If that’s not living joyfully, I don’t know what is.
I saw a really good life coach toward the middle of the year who opened my eyes to some things going on in my life that needed to stop and that I’ve been in the process of cutting out. I stopped selling myself short on certain things that were wedged in my brain and I stopped caring about things that I know won’t matter in a few years.
There were some setbacks I had, just like everyone else, and I definitely ended the year feeling drained and a little lost and uncertain. But there was lots of surprising joy in the year and instead of allowing myself to wallow or hide out, I spent a ton of time with my kids during the winter break and reminded myself why I’ve made a lot of decisions that have kept me close to them (instead of, say, traveling all the time or taking a job that would keep me from seeing them so much).
So “Joyful,” in a weird way, did work itself out.
Along those lines, I’ve been mulling over my word for 2017 and here it is (this won’t be a surprise if you’ve already glanced at the title of this post):
This is a little bit of a cheat because it’s a word I’m using in a few different ways (why not just choose three words of the year? THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS!).
“Track.” Mostly what I mean by it is that I need to do better about keeping track of things in my life, something I used to be great at sometime in my major GTD phase, where I was making tons of to-do lists, labelmaking the shit out of everything in my house and work desk, and being militant about not letting things fall through the crack.
I won’t blame it on age, but I’ve mellowed on a lot of that stuff and some of it just doesn’t make any sense anymore. Meticulously filing thousands of emails? Unnecessary. Keeping all my old paper story files? Even our electronic archive at work is incomplete and that stuff matters more. I find myself wanting to hold on to that stuff less and less.
But the stuff I should be keeping track of, such as following through on personal goals, on not letting myself off the hook on benchmarks (writing this post, for instance). That’s stuff I need to track much more strictly after a few years of just letting my off-hours writing and project work fall by the wayside. I mean have you seen how much good shit there is on TV? Have you played Overwatch? Gotten into a fight on Facebook? There’s always other fun and engaging stuff to do and I’ve taken it way too easy on myself to just opt out and not finish things.
Track is also being used here as in “Get to the track” and exercise more. I started running this last year, something I’ve never, ever done, even when I was seeing a trainer two years ago, and even though my body is totally not built for it (chunky legs, bad breathing habits), I’ve somehow learned how to jog without stopping every two or three minutes. So I’m keeping on with that. And following some kind of regular path. Or track, if you will.
Tracks, incidentally, are what I’ve been thinking of as I file a bunch of my CDs (still have them!) into a giant folder and get rid of shelves and shelves worth of jewel boxes. I’m going through all of this music, a lot of which I never bothered to transfer to my computer or phone and thinking, “Where has that song been all this time?” Yes, almost all of it is on Spotify, but I forgot how much music I used to own and just completely lost track of. There are some great songs I haven’t heard in a very long time.
And one more use of the word: I’d like to keep track of my friends a little better. One of the things I do when I’m stressed or having a hard time is just to disengage with everyone, to hide at home or behind a keyboard and to just withdraw from everything. Starting the podcast (still going after three years!) was one was of forcing myself out of Hermittown, but as fun as it is, it’s not enough. I need to do that in my personal life too and devote more time to reconnecting with friends and family I haven’t been paying enough attention to.
I have some work/creative/project goals for the year too, but those are super boring if you’ve not me, so I’ll only mention for now that I’m excited to be performing again with Latino Comedy Project after a nine-year hiatus and that returning to the San Francisco Sketch Festival later in January is already looking like a huge highlight of the coming year.
I’m not going to promise more blog posts here because that never seems to happen, but I do plan to write a lot more this year one way or another and I hope some of that stuff ends up here.
What’s your word for 2017? What are your plans? Let me know. I really miss hearing from you.