(Weird numerology fact, if you're into that: if you add 12 + 14 + 1978--my birthday--you get... 2004.)
Indulge me for a moment: 2004 is the first whole calendar year I've kept a Livejournal (I started this one in October 2003). If you're home and you feel like commenting between flipping between Regis and Seacrest, let me know in the comments 1) what your favorite entry from my journal was this year and 2) if applicable, which entry compelled you to friend me. (For most people, I'm thinking this will be a "Fifteen Minutes" post or a Lost recap, but maybe I'll be surprised.)
Hmm. New Year's resolutions. (Funny story. Y'all remember that "You Can't Do That On Television" show, I know you do. For years, I thought a "resolution" was a kind of drink, like a punch, because of some skit where the slobby dad "made his New Year's resolution" and then "drank too much." At the time, the way it was worded--well, I was a bright kid; I used me some o' them there context clues, and you can guess what I came up with.)
If I were really honest with myself--oh, look; I guess I'm doing it now--my one and only New Year's resolution would be, now and forever, DO IT. With possibly a corollary of DO IT NOW. I think, really, that I live a lot of my very safe, pleasant, overstuffed life in fear. What if I try it and I don't like it? What if they don't like me? What if I get there and I don't know what to say? What if I start and I can't finish? Or I do finish, and it's terrible?
I started thinking about all this because of theferrett's resolution entry, and as I commented over there, I think I've been in a strange New Year frame of mind for about two months now. In the last few weeks, I've just suddenly been trying new things--new music, new foods, new friends, new causes, new opportunities. I don't want to bring up the divisive specter of politics per se, but I really think it was all a spontaneous reaction to the election. I'm trying to tread carefully here, because I know there Republicans and/or Bush supporters on my friends list (I make the distinction because my parents, for example, are one but not the other), and I'm not trying to say that I had this righteous Democrat transformation, because I didn't. It was more just a realization that I didn't like the way things were being run by either side--by a particular generation, and the realization that my generation, one on the tail end of X and the forefront of Y, has come of age. And, as I wrote last month, I realized that I was so upset because I'd been hoping, subconsciously, that we could elect one man to fix all of this. And I think that part of becoming an adult is realizing that there's no such silver bullet. Milton was speaking of being a good Christian, but I think what he said applies to living any kind of good or successful life: in essence, the good path is one of constant effort, constant wariness, constant warfare. I hadn't taken up arms yet.
It's much more comfortable to believe nothing you do can make a difference, trust me. I found that out the hard way this year. If nothing you can do makes a difference, you're absolved of responsibility; it doesn't matter if you hang back or shy away, because your contribution amounts to zero whether you show up or not. Which is completely untrue, by the way. Once I realized that I could, in fact, make a difference, I suddenly started seeing everything in those terms: I couldn't fight the whole war, but I could fight in so many battles, I could set off so many domino reactions, and all of a sudden I was completely overwhelmed, because if I could, why wasn't I? It's almost addictive--you want to save everyone all the time, and the resulting hero complex, the guilt of being only one person who could be and should be doing so much but doesn't have enough hours in the day, is almost more paralyzing than the fear of stepping up and doing anything in the first place.
Taking all that into consideration, I think it's interesting that 2004 was such a good year for me, and it was mostly good because I did things spontaneously, just because I wanted to do them. Of course, then people discovered them--I'm thinking of my journal in general, "Movies in Fifteen Minutes," and the Lost recaps here--and suddenly I had a responsibility to keep doing them, and do them well, instead of just playing around off the record. It's the same fear you feel when you realize you can make a difference--it's the fear you feel when you realize somehow that you do matter, that people are watching, and that you have to keep going. It's not just me I'm talking about, not just my fear--it's the fear you feel when you fight to get into a good school or get a certain job, and then you get it, and now you have to back those promises up. It's the fear you feel when you've promised to love someone forever, and suddenly forever starts to look like an awfully long time. All of you matter--all of us matter--and not realizing it can be a lonely thing. Sometimes, though, a quiet shadow to hide in can also be a blessing.
And no, I haven't started drinking yet. It might sound like the fuzzy navels talking, but it's not. Yet.