It’s now 5 days into January 2018. That seems a short time in words, but it can feel like a very long time under the right circumstances. Oh, the things I’ve done with just 5 days – conceive and pitch a new product, write half of an album’s worth of material, record a few albums worth of material, span 5 continents – but this hasn’t been one of those 5 days. It’s been a quiet, introspective 5 days. I’ve primarily been cleaning up fire and holiday messes and loose ends this week, and trying to establish a new daily rhythm after almost a month of schedule chaos and geographic disarray. But in the monotonous overload of everyday this last 5 days, I’ve learned some things that have helped me look back on the last few years with less jaded, better focused eyes. I’m not going to deal in New Years resolutions or big sweeping judgements of my past this year, just share a few things I’ve discovered as I’ve tiptoed into 2018. Grab a coffee and pull up a chair.
I kinda bailed on normal life last month. Between the fires, a cavalcade of awkward personal, legal and medical issues that demanded attention, closing escrow on my former house in Oakland, and of course the holidays, I really didn’t have any context of normal to work from. It was a pretty disconnected 30 days or so. But I come away from it with a few straightforward observations.
Social Media is a Distraction
I realized quickly how many of my friends quite literally do not communicate with anyone outside of social media these days. And that many friends are awful needy in their Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter exchanges when you step away for a bit. No offense, my update-addicted homies, but I think I’m kinda done with that. You all have my phone number, send me a freakin’ text (as I’ll admit, I kinda avoid answering the phone these days if it didn’t escalate from a text exchange – I’m rarely in a place where I feel comfortable jabbering in public). If you don’t hear from me, don’t take it personally, just working on my shit over here. Ping me if ya need me. 🙂
Everyone Needs Downtime
I hadn’t realized the extent of the patterns I’d been locked into last year until the evacuations forced me to break them all. It’s kinda felt drifty and detached, like being on tour, since early December – so getting back to a semi-routine again has made me push back a bit, with more perspective on the overload of responsibilities I’d signed myself up for last year. I’m not sure I really realized how overloaded and stressed I was until late fall, so getting a full month away from any real commitment was a godsend. I’m going to make sure and take at least 4-5 contiguous days off every 6 months or so from now on to make sure I don’t get myself into a rut again. Highly recommended.
Don’t Let Things Slip
Once the hotel life started second week of December, time got a bit fluid. I came home to find a few past due bill notices and such that I just didn’t have on my mind so much. It was nice to not really give a flying fuck about it, either.
But in a bigger sense, I seriously overestimated the effort I’d need to make in 2017 to really hit even the modest side of my goals. A lot of things went wrong as a result. My musical, career, legal, and real-estate goals – those got achieved. My health goals took a lot more attention (and cost me much more stress) than expected. I did hit those goals but not without ripple effects on other areas of my life, in particular my personal growth and social life. Those goals just plain got put on hold. The other areas simply demanded that of me. And I really beat myself up over it in a lot of not-so-good ways. Bleah.
Keeping my trials and lessons of 2017 in mind as I look forward to 2018, the theme is obvious. Make realistic goals, don’t be impatient, don’t overload myself, enjoy incremental success. Fortunately, after the chaos and destruction of 2017 my life is now much simpler. I shed a lot of old skin, old baggage, old bills, and started healing some really old scars. I can’t let that effort slip an inch as I move forward by overloading or under-expecting of myself. I’m capable of great things this year and need to focus hard, but gotta keep a firm, realistic foundation as I do so.
Happiness is Relative
As I look back 12 months, there’s undoubtedly a shit-ton of shit memories sprinkled throughout a wrenchingly shitty year. Although it had so much great promise at it’s beginning, 2017 was destined to be a karma payback year for me. And pay I did. But although I feel different and a bit burned clean, I really do feel happy, too. There’s things I do want to scream about, beat a heavy bag for hours over, run and ponder until my knees give out. But I’m starting to really stress the indignities of life less and honor the wins more, and that’s gonna be a key focus point for 2018. More of that, please.
Relatively speaking, I’ve got things pretty good. My health is pretty stable (now), I’m not horrible to look at, my sense of humor is still intact, and I love my job(s). I’ve finally been getting enough space to really grow on a personal level, and I’m getting oh so much creative output flowing that it’s almost overwhelming at times.
So I’m going to focus more on doing more of that. And not overthink the rest.
May your 2018, whatever it may represent to you, be one of wonder, extreme progress, and overwhelming joy.