Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The season of hope

Sunrise over Georgian Bay
As I’ve wished people a happy and prosperous new year, I’ve gotten back comments more than once on how bad 2014 was, not just for world, but personally for the people to whom I was speaking.

But last Thursday, we all turned the page on a bummer year and opened up a brand new 12 months, everything bright and shiny again.

I don’t know about you, but I always find the turning of the year to be a hopeful time. Yeah, it’s a reminder that I’m another year older and more personal doors seem to be closing than opening these days, a process sure to accelerate as the years move forward, but for every bad, there’s a good. That’s just the way life moves, and when you look at the bare bones of it, you can either embrace changes that naturally occur or spend your time shaking your fist at fate. Faced with that stark choice, I prefer to look at the hopeful side.

Like many, every year I set goals for myself. This year, they’re mostly physical ones. I’d like to lose weight (and how many years have I been saying that?). I would like to walk more, maybe play a little pick-up ball (or at least play catch with my wife or sons — and now, also my grandson!), simply get out and about rather than allowing myself to be chained to my computer. That’s a really worth (and sensible) goal, don’t you think?

Finding time for writing remains a challenge. I waste too many valuable minutes every day, allowing myself to get distracted by things that really don’t need doing. Since I’m usually up ahead of my wife, you would think that would be an ideal time to write. Unfortunately, every morning, I fire up the computer and (of course) wind up checking the overnight news, wishing friends a Happy Birthday on Facebook, stuff like that all worthy, but also not necessary when there’s writing to be done. The internet is a seductive place, and if you’re naturally curious as I am, it’s a real danger to moving my writing forward. Solution? Don’t turn on the computer; just sit down with pen and paper and lay down some more deathless prose. Sure, it will take longer doing it that way, but as I’ve said here more than once, I find I think more clearly when having to get my thoughts down more slowly. The proof is that my “manual” writing needs far less refining than when I type my words directly into the computer.

Being a musician, I have to practise daily. (“You’ve been playing how long and you still have to practise?”) Unless you’ve taken music past a certain point, you probably don’t know what a joy it is to spend quality time with your instrument of choice. Currently for me, that means the trumpet, something I never really set out to learn, by the way. There is a joy in making music as well as a real rush in being able to perform in front of an audience. In order to do either successfully and at a high level, that means slogging it out every day. I’ve played particular scales and exercises tens of thousands of times and I still manage to get a kick out of doing them. Why? I can’t really tell you. Sure, I could plod through them because I know how necessary they are, but it goes beyond that. I simply enjoy buzzing my lips at the small end of a brass instrument to receive a glorious sound out the big end. It’s as simple as that — even if I’ve done the same set of notes every day for forty years.

This year, I have a lot I want to accomplish, and to do that, I need to be very organized to make the most of each 24-hour daily allotment. To that end, I’m decided to make a daily “To-Do List”, organized into “must-dos”, “need to dos”, and “like to dos”. I’m also writing down my new year resolutions, but that’s more for historic reference next New Year’s Eve — just to see how I did.

The bad part of being faced with too many things to do in too little time is that you never can allow yourself to stop and smell the flowers. A little downtime is a good thing, too. Somehow I have to figure out how to schedule that in — without it feeling like I’m scheduling it in.

In the end, life is always a matter of balance, isn’t it?

4 comments:

Sybil Johnson said...

I'm finding writing the first draft of a chapter with pen and paper works out much better for me. I get more done, it's better quality, and I don't have to fight the urge to play a computer game or check facebook or...

Rick Blechta said...

Exactly!

I spent a few days in Ottawa when Barbara and I did joint launches there and in Toronto for our current novels. One afternoon was spent with us on opposite sofas, happily scribbling away on our current manuscripts. Sort of an odd way of spending rare time together...

Sybil Johnson said...

It sounds very pleasant!

Rick Blechta said...

Dueling writers. About as interesting to watch as paint drying...