Let’s face it. The past two years sucked big time. I didn’t do as much blogging, but how do you summarize life in a pandemic? We coped as best we could, with sickness and death all around us and political instability and division threatening everything else not touched by COVID. Despite this we’ve led a very comfortable life, compared to most. We have stayed healthy. I’ve enjoyed kayaking, exploring, and making music, as I’ve always done. Yet, anxiety is still ever-present. For that reason, I’ve decided to make my goals for 2022 as anxiety-free as possible.
Back when I was an educator I always had to include measurable, observable goals in my lesson plans and when I wrote grant proposals. “Student reading comprehension based will increase by 10% by the end of the academic year as measured by…..,” or some such nonsense. For this year I’m keeping some obvious numbers, but getting rid of most, since anxiety increases if I don’t meet those numbers. There will be nothing like, “I plan to lose 40 lbs by such and such date.”
So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2022 with a bit of explanation for each…
1. Appreciate friends and family, but be willing to turn loose
This whole pandemic has taught us how fragile life can be and that anyone can be affected. I posted the following on Facebook as a summary…
“We need to get together sometime…”
Vague words which mean nothing. In 2022 I want to make this happen – turn “sometime” into a specific date, a specific plan of action where we can see each other face to face, enjoy each other’s company, and revel in the fleeting moments that we have on this earth.
I usually have a messy house. I don’t care. If it bothers you, then we can sit out on the back deck or the front porch with guitars, banjos, martinis, or your favorite weapon of mass distraction. Or, we can meet at a restaurant or park, or kayak, or, or… There’s lots of options.
Driving back from Florida I was listening to Jeff Holmes’s song, “Another Maybe Someday.” That phrase hit home. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that those somedays are limited. Time to spend them with people you love. Get vaccinated, stay safe, and let’s make a plan to get together in 2022.
The flip side of that is that I have some acquaintances and some family members that are simply toxic. There are some that won’t take simple measures like getting vaccinated. I need to turn loose of the guilt that I don’t associate with them as much.
2. Be in the moment
Back in 1987 I toured Europe with a friend from college. She commented on the fact that so many of the tourists we encountered lived their entire lives through a camera viewfinder. 30+ years later I’ve realized that I am that tourist. I’ve taken kayak trips with multiple cameras to document every angle of the scenery. I’ve got recording devices of just about every type imaginable. I’m so busy documenting that I forget to enjoy. I’ve always had a problem balancing documentation and participation. Sometimes I draw pleasure from documentation, and that’s OK, too.
I can blame this blog for part of that. I don’t have to turn every event into a post. Over the past couple of years I’ve fretted about explorations and research that I’ve done that I just haven’t gotten around to writing up. It starts to snowball. I can’t write a post about X because I still haven’t written that post about Y. If I write about it, great. If not, I’m not going to feel guilty about it.
3. Declutter, declutter, declutter
I tend to accumulate…stuff – cameras, knives, kayaks, kites, and musical instruments are the current suspects. These aren’t the only things, though. I’ve got all of my financial records going back 30 years. I’ve got cords and electronic tidbits that I’ll never use. I’ve got gear that’s outdated and obsolete, but I’ve hung onto it because it still works, sort of. I’ve got boxes that I’ve kept just because it’s a cool box. I’ve got other things I’ve kept for sentimental value, but never pull out and use. Heck, we’ve even got furniture that takes up space just because we’re not sure what to do with it. It’s time for it to go. More importantly, it’s time for me to not feel guilty about getting rid of it.
One of my guilty pleasures is office supplies. I once had the mistaken idea that if I just had enough office supplies I could get my life in order. It wound up adding to the clutter. I love fine writing instruments. I’ve got boxes full of old pens that need to go away. I’ll keep just a couple. I love leather-bound notebooks, but I’m always afraid that I’ll mess it up. I want the writing to be perfect. I’ve gotten over that, pretty much. My new philosophy is that I never buy a rope I’m afraid to cut or a notebook I’m afraid to write in.
I’m also done with intentional collections. I used to collect hymnals. This summer I packed up five boxes and gave them to my sister Ann, who also collects them. I kept a few special ones, like my shaped note songbooks, but most of them went away. I can find just about all of those online now, so there’s no need for the bulky collection. Some my say that my kayaks and instruments are collections. Maybe. However, I don’t gather those just to have a specific collection. I have tools that aid my hobbies. I think there is a difference. I may get to the point where I want to pare those down, but I’m not there yet.
Just seeing all of this stuff around the house causes anxiety. I feel like I’m supposed to be doing something with it, or at the very least, finding a place for it. Getting rid of much of it will also reduce that anxiety.
4. Read more novels
During the past several years I spent too much time doom-scrolling and not enough time with escapist literature. Time to change that. I used to love getting lost in a good book. I just finished the last Expanse novel and it left me with a hunger for more. In keeping with the anti-anxiety theme, the trick is to not feel guilty about the novels you don’t read or don’t finish. It’s OK to move on. I didn’t finish the last Dan Brown novel and I seriously doubt I will ever read another.
5. Update my wardrobe
Since I retired 8.5 years ago, it seems that the only thing I wear anymore are cargo pants and fishing shirts, with the occasional jeans and flannel shirt thrown in. I’ve got a definite look, and it’s gotten into a rut. I keep thinking I need to lose weight to look more stylish, but until that happens there are some things I can change, or at least add to my current wardrobe.
First off, in keeping with #3 above, I need to get rid of the business attire that I’ve had for 20+ years in my closet that no longer serves any purpose. I just need a suit, a couple of dress shirts, and a couple of ties for funerals (sadly, getting more common these days) and for formal occasions. I like informal sport coats so I’m going to get one or two more to pair with jeans.
I also have a few oddball choices I think would work well for banjo gigs. I recently bought a nice bowler derby hat from Jungle J’s. I’d like to get a couple of Western style vests to wear. I also like banded collar shirts, but I have had a hard time finding any of those except online. Let’s just say that my clothing choices have turned a bit eclectic.
Now we get into the more specific, measurable goals. Again, if I don’t get to these it’s OK
6. Get my amateur radio technician’s license
The last thing I need is another hobby where I collect more stuff (see #3 above), and ham radio certainly falls into that category. That’s not my intent. I own a couple of Baofeng handheld radios and I just want to make sure that I’m legal with them. So far I’ve only used them as marine radios or on FRS/GMRS bands and that’s probably where I’ll stay. But, just in case…
7. Memorize at least 10 songs
I should specify non-Gospel songs. I already know lots of those. I can also now play lots of melodies by ear on my various instruments. Sadly, what I can’t do is sing that many songs without having to use a lyric cheat-sheet.
I still think back to my embarrassment in Doolin, Ireland, a few years ago. Tara Howley was playing and asked if anyone would like to sing a song. Here I was, a music teacher and professional musician, and I couldn’t think of a single one to sing in that pub setting. I’ve been working on that.
I don’t have a specific playlist, but it will probably cross several genres. One of my problems is that I love so many genres that I’ve never gotten good at any particular one. Jack of all trades, etc.
8. Kayak at least 10 new paddling venues
I have friends that make mileage goals for the year. I’ve done that in the past and fallen woefully short. I still plan to keep track of my paddling mileage, but I think this is a better stress-free goal. I keep a wishlist of places I want to kayak. Some of them are local and some would require a multi-day trip. There are a couple of sections of the Edisto that I still have not paddled. There are some spots around local lakes that I just haven’t gotten around to. Heck, I could meet this goal just with local paddling trips.
So, those are my 2022 goals. Even writing this turned into an exercise in not sweating things and keeping anxiety to a minimum. It’s now January 3 and I was hoping to have this post done for New Year’s Day. I had also planned to add relevant photographs. Heck, I haven’t even downloaded my Christmas photos from my cameras or my phone.
So, here’s to a happy and anxiety-free 2022!