Great news, folks. I’ve declared 2015 to be The Year Of Taking Myself Less Seriously.
It feels good. Of course I forget about it every few seconds, and go back to my old take-myself-too-damn-serious bit. But in between forgetting, in the fleeting moments when I remember, it's great. And, you know – a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step, type thing.
Speaking of steps and journeys.
On Sunday I paid a visit to the house I grew up in. It could have been a fraught and emotional experience. I was last inside that house in June 2007, three-plus years after Dad died, just after I finished college and before I moved to central Arizona. Dad and I shared a mutual affinity for the house ("I plan on never leaving," he had said.) And I remember standing in the bathroom before I left – Mom already had a buyer at the time – and I wondered how it could be the last time. The last time I’d wash my face at that sink, and pat myself dry with a towel hanging from the ring-shaped towel holder. I looked at the shampoo bottles on the floor of the shower and thought, this is it; this is The End.
But actually it was kind of neat to go back there. In my old room I opened the drawer of the built-in desk.
And there were my initials, where I’d carved them.
In the kitchen there was the place where we marked our heights. According to this invaluable historical archive, I grew more than an inch during a six-month stretch in late 1997 and early 1998.
The marking at the very bottom – so faint you can barely see it – is from 1995. According to the laws of mathematics, that’s now twenty years ago. It’s in Dad’s handwriting.
Dad would love The Year Of Taking Myself Less Seriously. There was one time when I caught a glimpse of a list of goals he’d written for himself on a yellow legal pad that was sitting out on his desk. “Equanimity,” he’d written, as a goal. Google tells me that equanimity is “mental calmness, evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.”
A worthy goal, for sure, but I’ll tell you that it was very much aspirational, for him. There was his approach, for instance, to the card game Hearts, which we used to play tournament-style every Thanksgiving, spread out across the kitchen and living room of that house.
“What card was that!” he’d practically shout, after someone had played a card and someone else was swiping the pile away, because the trick was over.
“That was, uh, the nine of clubs.”
“Uh-huh, uh-huh,” Dad would say, nodding, and pressing his thumb and forefinger to his mouth, in deep concentration.
But he was terrible at the game. He almost never advanced from the first round into the championships, even after all that thinking and muttering and shouting about which card was which. A smidgen of equanimity might have served him well, in that particular situation.
And me, too, actually, in lots of situations.
Here’s to 2015.