On examining the present
I don’t generally make new year’s resolutions, but I do like to regularly reevaluate where I am and what I want. Doing so lets me notice if I’m in a rut or heading in the wrong direction. It helps me better remain open to possibilities and know what opportunities to focus on, as well as which opportunities to turn down. (Question everything about your life from time to time; it’s great.) Here are some notes related to that process of reflection:
1. Although my go-to thinking tool is a list on my notes app, I sometimes draw mind maps with pencil and paper when I’m feeling a little lost. I love this imagined map made by writer, artist, farmer, and falconer Jenna Woginrich, and what she says about it: “When I find that I’m in a rut, sometimes I need to use cartography to claw my way out.”
On a recent post, poet Leila Chatti wrote, “Every year, I choose a focus for the months ahead, a larger theme I feel I need in my growth, an adjustment of course.” Poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib has mentioned (maybe only in ephemeral instagram stories) how each year he starts a braided essay on a “theme/container.” The essays are just an exercise for him and his own reflection, and never shared or published.
From Audre Lorde, after her cancer returned, “A better question is — how do I want to live the rest of my life and what am I going to do to ensure that I get to do it exactly or as close as possible to how I want that living to be?”
Patti Smith: “Sometimes you're doing really well, then, after three or four years, everything inexplicably crashes like a house of cards and you have to rebuild it. It's not like you get to a point where you're all right for the rest of your life.”
I really enjoyed this interview about reflection and resolutions between Caroline Mimbs Nyce and Oliver Burkeman from earlier this week: “I think, if you look into the deep motivations driving [new year’s resolutions], often, it’s like, 2023 is finally going to be the year that I transcend the human condition—the year I overcome the temptation to eat junk food, with more self-discipline than any human ever could have. It’s like, ‘Well, it’s not going to be the year that you transcend the human condition.’”
Finally, a resolution from June Jordan:
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