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To Do: Be Aware

January 1, 2014

I’m sitting in a small, well-appointed hotel room typing this out.  I’ve spent the night here, and will again tonight, as day 3 of my 4 day trip concludes.  It’s a soft day.  Not really a “work” day, as all I do is ‘lay’ over in preparation of tomorrow’s flight.  I’m not complaining.

It’s 5:30 pm.  The bed is unmade.  Mushy, misshapen pillows lay across a rumpled snow-white duvet cover.  No need to have the maids make the bed just for me–I’m the only one who will see the inside of this room for 32 hours.  Perhaps the housekeeping staff can go home a few minutes early because my doorknob says “Quiet Please-No Services Needed”.  Maybe they appreciate that.

And maybe I’m just over thinking things.

Today is New Year’s Day.  And like the first line from the song by U2, all is quiet here.  Just the occasional rumble and soft rattle of the thermostat-induced heater blowing warm air.  This, and the soft hiss of cars driving up the side street about 45 feet away.  The flat panel television remains silent and dark.  I don’t usually touch the thing when I am out on a trip somewhere.  I find my smart phone keeps me well up-to-date on any breaking news or happening.

Which has me thinking.  Lots of people I know take the time to proclaim steadfast resolutions every New Years Day.  It seems like the time to do so–each of us with an unblemished canvas of days ahead.  Even our 2014 calendars are not yet dog-eared and mostly blank.  Why not step up and state that this year will be the year?

The year for what?  Betterment, from what I glean off of my friends’ Facebook feed.  ‘I’ll listen more.  Eat less.  Visit more places.  Run that marathon.  Have more fun with my family.  Relax.  Breathe.’  What’s not to like about that?  Doing better is good.  Rare is the comment “I’m gonna eat/drink/imbibe too much” or “Perhaps this year will be the year that I totally dissolve into a mind-numbing routine.”  And nobody is going to come up with “I think I’ll go crazy with the AmEx card and ruin my credit, wreck the car then cheat on my spouse” or some other equally egregious whopper.

Yet troubling stuff still winds up happening.

So, at the margin between the old year and the new, we tend to take a little time to be introspective.  We might look into the mirror not to see if we have a piece of parsley stuck to our teeth (that is a good reason, aye) but to peer inward.  We might notice something physical, yes, like a new crease on our face.  Or we might squint a little harder–to see how we might have failed–others and ourselves–in this past year.  And now I do so.

I can say with certainty that 2013 passed with lightning speed.  My kids have grown noticeably.  Drew, my 8-year-old, is rapidly maturing as he begins to tackle new subjects at school and even get tested on them.  He’s joined the local Cub Scouts.  His childhood network of friends grows, too, and with it are more obligations to be here for that meeting or there for this play date.  More complex.

Alex, my 6-year-old, grows too.  He’s bigger, built like a fireplug including a round belly, and stronger.  He continues down a path tangential to his older brother in that, yes, he goes to school–a special school for kids with special needs like his autism–but no, there are no tests for him to take.  No multiplication tables or sentence diagraming.  No religion class or preparation for his First Holy Communion.  And yet there is growth, there is learning taking place.  Alex has readily taken to his iPad, which we hope will be key to unlocking that ability to communicate–needs, emotions, questions, cares, dreams.

Imagine that last one.  Dreams.  I know Drew has them.  Just a few weeks ago, Drew regaled me with his plans to become an astronaut and blast into outer space.  He can tell us what his dreams are.  But does Alex have dreams?  I think so.  In my heart of hearts, I believe.  He just cannot tell us–yet.  We have great hope for the iPad.

We have great hope for the newest member of our family too.  That would be Merrows, Alex’s service animal.  She of the bright smile and fluffy ears.  She of the good manners and steadfast loyalty.  And like Alex’s iPad, it is up to us, Kat and I, to integrate her into Alex’s life so she can be of greatest benefit.

Kat has had the world back up on her.  Her parents are both fragile healthwise.  Her father wrestles with dementia, diabetes and chronic pain.  Her mother struggles with mobility issues and her own bipolar challenges.  Kat does this juggling with as much grace, care and tact she can muster.  It is sad for her given her ‘only child’ status.  I alleviate as much weight as I can.  Some days go by as if time stands still.  Yet weeks and months and entire seasons fly by and suddenly the year ends.

With my return to flying, I transitioned from a home-every-night desk job to one where I am only home half the month.  Flying airplanes is wonderful.  I so love the act of taking flight.  Travel itself is a reward.  Quiet hotel rooms are great and wonderful for catching up on sleep or typing out blog entries.  But my time away does not get the snow shoveled off the driveway, or the car looked at after a small fender-bender, or Alex’s whining at 2:30 in the morning–all of which occurred today, while I sit in my comfortable, quiet, dare-I-say insulated hotel room.

Which leads me to those resolutions that everyone seems to make heading into the new year.  What do I resolve?  Where do I start?

I resolve to focus.  To quit checking Facebook every 30 minutes.  To give my attention, my time, my energy to my family when I am present.  To give my time to myself when I am alone.  To ride my bike and swim and go to the gym and drink more water and less Coke Zero.  To write down To Do lists every night before I go to bed–and then DO THEM when the next day begins.  To write more.  To talk less.  To laugh more.  To be aware.

All these are fine notions with great personal reward.  I can do them, yes.  But, will I?  Here’s a bald fact:  I resolved to do much of the above last January 1st.  But mostly, I didn’t.  No, I wouldn’t call my efforts in 2013 a failure.  But I didn’t kick ass and take names like I probably thought I would this past year.  I don’t want to live just to get by.

As I said earlier, maybe I’m overthinking things.  To the point where it is distracting me from just doing.  Procrastination is not my friend.  And distraction seems to be its’ sidekick, the bastard.

So here I go 2014.  I am aware, resolutions or not.  After I write my To Do list, I’m going to bed.  Don’t get in my way.

From → Family Stuff

  1. Paula permalink

    Great sentiments. Happy New Year

  2. Very well written with great inward reflection. Keep putting these thoughts down and someday you’ll be rewarded from the benefit of your self-induced-therapy.

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