Friday, December 30, 2022

My New Year's Resolution: To Bask in Joy

This has been one of the strangest family vacations ever.  I realize that we are lucky in how often we have avoided sickness on family vacations that I've been part of.  I have heard the stories of people taking dream vacations to exotic locales, only to be felled by flu (just for the vacation, not in the final sense of that word). 

Our vacation to Hawaii could have been worse.  Half of the family had plans no more intense than reading and watching the Pacific--we took turns doing that from the comfort of our villa, as we tended the sick or recovered.  We've had time by the pool and time for exotic drinks.  We've cooked together, the ones well enough to eat on any given day.

Some of our family has had some variety of gastric distress.  Two of us went to bed at 6 p.m., but on separate nights.  I had a fever of 100.9, and felt chills and muscle achiness.  After 14 hours sleeping, I feel better this morning, though still sore.

We are not watching bowl games--in the past, we might have.  I wonder if it's because we cared about those games or some other reason.  I remember being baffled at my dad's sudden enthusiasm for some team that had turtles as its mascot.  I remember wondering why someone long ago chose turtles.

It's another year of some person we've never heard of proclaiming that T.S. Eliot was the last good poet, that poetry died 100 years ago.  It was the hundred year anniversary of several modernist classics, including "The Waste Land," so perhaps we should have expected these kinds of pieces.  But still, no one has gone back to Joyce's Ulysses to excoriate us all for not writing like that anymore.  Of course, that would mean that someone would have to read/re-read Ulysses, which is a much more gargantuan task than meandering through "The Waste Land."

The fact is that people don't want to read those kinds of works where the footnotes and explanatory matter take more room than the text itself.  But we are still reading and writing other types of works.  Literature is far from dead.

When we watched a TV channel with Christmas music and fun facts, there was a reference to an ordinance in 1644 that banned Christmas in England.  My dad said, "I wonder why that happened."  I was able to give a brief summary of the English Civil War--my English major font of information has come in handy in all sorts of ways this year.

It's the time of year when many people will be making resolutions and self-improvement plans.  I am done with planning.  After a year of constant pivoting, I am going to spend the next year basking in joy.  That's more likely than losing 20-50 pounds or running a half marathon/10K/5K or eating 5 servings of veggies each and every day.  I will write poems, as I have always done.  I will think about book length collections, while realizing this year is likely not the one where I put together something new.  I will be on the lookout for new opportunities, new ways to bask in joy.

I will not be re-reading Ulysses--3 times in one lifetime is probably enough for that book (I wrote part of my MA thesis on that book, which meant I returned to it far more often than most people alive today).

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