31 December 2006

My 2007 New Year's Manifestos

"Never too late, never too old, never too bad, and never too sick to do yoga and start from scratch once again."
- Bikram Choudhury

It is never too late or too early to care for the well-being of the soul”
- Epicurus

"Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account"
- Oscar Wilde

"Knowing that you can change your behavior, even by an iota, is essential for holding yourself in esteem. We’re often cynical about how resolutions are never kept, but we shouldn’t be. Resolutions are perhaps lies, but they’re lies of good faith, necessary illusions. As long as we can make them, we are saved, we can control the chaos of destiny; it doesn’t matter that we break them and that others view us with skepticism. Every resolution is good simply because it is declared. It is a comedy, perhaps, but it keeps us sane."
- Pascal Bruckner

Most folks hate New Year's Resolutions; but I think it's all in the name. But I love the idea of taking stock of life my life and seeking positive change even if its only an iota. Often resolutions are too specific, and hence to easy to give up on when we "fail" - though how can we ever fail as we strive live in the world in a positive way. To me, resolutions relating to those types of things are meaningful resolutions.

In the interest of developing a less off putting name, here are my New Year's Manifestos, in no particular order.

Slow. I'd like to live more slowly in a world that wants me to go fast. We are whipped into a frenzy by our culture - this just past Christmas being an easy whipping boy in this regard. For a substantial alternative point of view please visit the website of the Long Now.

Television. The medium is the message as McLuhan pointed out long ago, and the message is pretty awful from the Biggest Loser to Deal or No Deal to Desperate Housewives. Even PBS sucks pretty bad these days. I can only listen to Dr. Wayne Dwyer, the high priest of secular revelation, so many times, or Gary Null on how to live joylessly but forever... and now reruns of Northern Exposure? And don't tell me to watch the Sopranos or Ugly Betty. So I have decided to limit television in my life. To make it a conscious choice rather than a mindless after work drug that eliminates my ability to take an active vs. passive role in my life. If there were such a thing as Television Addicts Anonymous, it would be a crowded meeting hall. The reigning in of my addiction will not however include turning off Paula, Simon, or Randy...

Food. Really, food companies are hell bent on making us fix things quicker, bigger and eat them faster. Medium is the new small, and soon XXL will be the new medium. The goal here is to simply eat as if eating mattered, not that its something to be gotten through. With an appreciation of all the effort it took to get that food on my plate. And see it for the blessing it is. The cost of producing microwave Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is starvation in Africa. Think I'm kidding don't you...

Games. Even chess is succumbing to the God of Speed; what used to be perhaps the slowest and most thoughtful of all board games has become addicted to Blitz (5 MIN) and Rapid Chess (15 MIN). I enjoy the slow version - so-called "classical time control". And plan to stick to it.

Sustainability. Its no secret except to Dubya that the world is a rather finite place. Fresh water may soon be as valuable as oil - and when did we fall for the idea of bottled water? All that water that used to come out of a tap, now it comes in a plastic bottle. Talk about non-sustainable. And fishing - the world's oceans are set to crash somewhere around 2046 meaning the only meaningful amount of fish will exist in very at risk "ocean preserves" and in fish farms. And meat is a joke - it takes more calories to produce meat than the consumer will ever get out of the meat. Not to mention that livestock accounts for more global warming gases than cars...

Food Again. Less processed means more sustainable. The more boxes I use to fix my food the more destruction of resources I am responsible for. If I can heat and eat, then there is not much left of its original nature. Less processed tends to be healthier too. I don't care what the FDA says - the ingestion of ingredients with long unpronounceable words can't be good for me.

"BUY BUY SAYS THE SIGN IN THE SHOP WINDOW, WHY WHY SAYS THE JUNK IN THE YARD" - McCartney. Buying used or not buying at all. Separating wants from needs. Seperating my wants from what the media and corporations want me to not just want but to consider a vital need to be satisfied with my life. Review the bottled water deal above. More is less. The need to create needs is what advertising is all about. Let's call them Adneeds. Adneeds are bad. Perhaps morally wrong. Five - FIVE blades on a razor... FIVE? And it VIBRATES!? If ever there were an Adneed. But I rant... but can I hear an "amen" people?!

Spirit. There has to be more to the Universe than the Hubble telescope can see. The local mall is the new Chartres . Science. Shopping. Dr. Dwyer says I'm OK. None of these answers is particularly satisfying. So I'll be reading the Bible from end to end this year with my mother-in-law Nanny. I've studied Zen, Buddhism, Hinduism, lit incense, meditated, medicated, fasted, twisted my body into clever shapes in yoga, and was raised Catholic. None of which really did much. The more I search, the less I seem to find. So maybe going back to basics will yield something. Open heart, stuff like that. Maybe if I just hang around and read a bit something will show up.

So, that said, here are my Manifestos for the New Year:

1) Slower Is Probably Better Unless You Are In An Ambulance.

2) Less Television Is Good Television.

3) Leave Nothing, Take Nothing, But Give As Much As You Can.

4) Buy It Used. Except underwear.

5) Eat More Vegetables and Fewer Cows.

6) Read The Bible If Only So You Can Say You Did.

7) Play Games.

8) Just Not With Peoples' Lives.

9) Drink Water From The Tap.

Om, ya'll!

1 comment:

Ken Albin said...

Yes, classical chess rather than blitz is the only way to truly create art at the board. The rest is just a way to waste a few minutes of time.