Maybe, I don’t know, goals? Aspirations? Things I want to do?
My actual New Year’s resolutions, like most people’s, are boringly predictable from year to year. Exercise more regularly. Pray and read my Bible more. Eat more vegetables. Be more patient with my kids. They’re not even worth mentioning on New Year’s Day because they’re really life resolutions, things I strive towards all the time, with varying degrees of success.
But I also enjoy setting random challenges for myself, although I don’t intend to write a book about any of them. Setting challenges and goals makes life interesting and forces me to stretch myself, to do things I wouldn’t normally do. In 2011, the things I’m challenging myself to do all have a sort of similar theme of rediscovering lost arts … things that maybe we don’t do enough, or at least I don’t do enough, in our wired, technological, sound-bite age.
In 2011, I’m going to …
1. Write Letters. At least once a week, I’m going to write an actual, physical, on-paper note or letter to someone in my life, and I’m going to put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and mail it. If I achieve my goal of sending 52 actual letters this year, not only will friends and family have tangible evidence of how much they mean to me, but Canada Post will love me.
2. Read Poetry. I think everyone knows I love to read. I voraciously devour novels and memoirs, but one of my guilty little secrets, as a writer, English teacher, and person with an B.A. and an M.A. in English, is that I haven’t read much poetry in my life, except things I had to read for class in university. This year, I plan to remedy that, and I will be looking for recommendations, both of classic poetry and contemporary poems (I’m particularly interested in things I wouldn’t have had to read for a university class).
3. Memorize Scripture. I’m always impressed by people who can memorize and I believe it’s good for the brain as well as the spirit. This year, between now and Easter, I’m joining an online challenge with people who want to memorize the entire book of Philippians (it’s a great website, although the person hosting it seems awfully dedicated to wanting you to buy a Moleskine … shares in the company perhaps? I just put my memorizing notes in a notebook I already had around the house, though of course you could do it just as easily with nothing but a Bible in your hand). I haven’t made a serious attempt at memorizing Scripture since I tried to memorize Psalm 119 some years ago, and depending on how the Philippians project goes, I might try some more … or I might slink away in silent shame, a memorizing failure.
I’ll blog about all these things from time to time throughout the next months and let you know how it’s going. Like I said, I won’t get a book deal out of any of these, but setting specific and measurable challenges gives me a sense of accomplishment, as opposed the ongoing effort to simply Be A Better Person, which can often make me feel a little like Sisyphus. Happy New Year … what challenges do you have in mind for yourself?