January 19th, 2007

I’m Trying

It’s required by law that a person take a look at their life at the start of the new year. The law’s been challenged several times, but the Supreme Court has upheld it and there’s nothing we can do about it now except buckle down and start with the retrospection.

My videogame boss (the guy who runs the site, not, you know, Bowser) said once that he doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions – if he decides to make a change he does it no matter what time of year it is. That’s a good philosophy. Trouble is, I get stuck in this mindset that beginnings must coincide. Going to start brushing my teeth with my left hand instead of my right one? Can’t do it until February. (I did this a little over a year ago, by the way. Now I can’t brush my teeth with my right hand because it feels weird. Might be time to switch back.) Trying a new route to work? Can’t do that on a Thursday. Beginnings of weeks, months, or years: these are the appropriate times for behavior changes. For me it’s because it’s easier to keep track of progress. If I started something at the beginning of the year, I can easily tell how long it took me to fail at it. “Let’s see, it’s January 7, so… one week!”

I haven’t made any resolutions this year. I’ve never had any luck with them and another failed attempt at reaching a goal I don’t need. Rather, I’m trying to take regular stock of things and see what needs to be different. I won’t get “one straight week of exercise!” but a daily mulling of exercise and my need for it might eventually put me in the frame of mind to actually do some, which would be better than my current level.

I’m definitely a creature of habit (which comes as no surprise to even a semi-regular reader of my blog here), and if I could just get myself to start good habits, I’d be all set.

Rather than “better” myself, I’ve considered “differing” myself, with hopes that doing something different might cause something better. I dabbled in this last year a little – traveling, meeting new people, that kind of thing – and had mixed results. I don’t have specific plans for anything different this year, but if I can keep the idea of “something different” in the front of my brain maybe I’ll actually occasionally choose the road less taken when presented with a choice.

So far this year I’ve done two things already that are different.

Last year I watched a total of 371 movies, an average of more than one a day. I didn’t set out to do this, but as the end of the year got closer and I realized it was possible, I did kind of step up my efforts a bit. By this day last year I had already watched 24 movies. This year I haven’t watched any yet. Not a single one. I’ve still spent plenty of time in front of screens, catching up on TV shows and videogames, but no movies as of yet. I thought maybe I’d go a month without, “just to see,” which is what I did with not drinking soda, and it’s been a few years on that front. I amended my “none at all” rule for the month to an “unless it’s in a theater or with friends” rule, but even with that revision I haven’t seen one yet. I fully expect this little experiment to fail, but it’s been interesting to try it.

The other new thing I did was so spend New Year’s Eve somewhere other than my apartment. I had big plans to ring in the new year in Azeroth with online friends, as it was a lot of fun to do last year. That morning in church, though, our class was reminded that there was a NYE party we were all invited to attend and, oh, by the way, did anyone happen to own Guitar Hero? My intentions were to loan my system and game for the party, but circumstances conspired and I ended up going to the party. There were like 30 people at this party. This was a big deal for me. You who’ve been reading this site for a while are probably somewhat in shock over this, as you know I get claustrophobic if there are more than 5 people in a room. Add to that the fact that I knew… oh, about 4 of these people, and you can see that my decision to try to be different this year started off with a pretty big bang, right at the stroke of midnight on January 1.

Granted, the lure of Guitar Hero was strong. It’s fun to play, and even more fun to play with other people. Being able to provide the fun was also a big part of the appeal. But, really, it was the personal invitations that made the biggest difference. The general class announcement didn’t sway me, and Lee’s “You’re coming to the party, right?” didn’t, either (sorry, Lee – that’s just how it is!). Jeannie’s invitation made a pretty big difference, though. I’ve known her for a long time, but because of certain circumstances I haven’t seen her for a few years. Re-meeting her lately has been good for me, both because it’s great to see her doing so well and because she’s been encouraging and friendly.

That’s us playing Guitar Hero in the picture there. I’ve been instructed to inform you it’s not “a very good picture” and I’ll add that this was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of two in the morning, but it’s the only picture I have of us playing, so I wanted to post it.

Here’s the funny thing: though I didn’t stray too far from the Guitar Hero room and I went largely at Jeannie’s invitation, I actually ended up talking to other people. And I found that they were a friendly group, and nice, and quick to share a laugh, and interesting, and, well, I started looking forward to the next class event. That’s a fairly different way to start my new year.

I got home a little after 3 that morning and got into World of Warcraft immediately. Luckily a few of my friends were still on and I got to spend some of my first few moments of the new year with them, too. I’m glad I didn’t miss it entirely, as I’ve made a lot of great online friends and I love them and wouldn’t want to miss that part of my life by trying something different.

Maybe instead of “different,” I should focus on the word “balanced.”

8 Comments on “I’m Trying”

  1. Kenthe2 says:

    The big-party-thing did surprise me considering you probably frequently did not have a wall at your back. I'm impressed!

    Better, new, different, balanced…it's all good.

  2. A person says:

    I didn't know about that law! How completely odd! "You will all be HAPPY now! Comply!!!!"

    I do like the idea though ~ niftyness.

    I enjoy how to dissect your own brain, Mark. It makes me chuckle.

  3. A person says:

    Oops, sorry — talking to my 6 yr old while typing — "I enjoy how YOU dissect your own brain" is how that should read. Lol

  4. Gretchen says:


    GREAT picture of you and G-knee. I am unfamiliar with that game, but you look like you could be in band practice. :)

    I love Get Fuzzy, too!

    I saw Josh Waltz the other night at the church Josh and I visited and he talked to us for about an hour after the service. I couldn't believe he remembered me! He said you guys keep in touch. What a great guy. He was my teacher, but as the years go on, those lines sort of blur into peer, you know?

    My only goal this year (I had a HUGE one last year, and actually fulfilled it as you can see on my post called "Resolved to Read") is to read through the Bible in a year. I have NLT to help me along. I have never done this before (ashamed to say!). Otherwise, pretty much everything in my life is different this year, so I thought I would not overdo it on myself. Or I know I would quit. :)

  5. MadMup says:

    Ken – you'll notice there is no one behind me, so I'm safe.

    Danna – I've always been pretty good at seeing *exactly* why I do the things I do — frankly, it's a little scary, as that makes me WAY more accountable!

    Gretchen – Great to hear from you! I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet up with you and [your] Josh before you guys left the area (I won't say it's *completely* his fault, but he never did get back to me… ;) ) but if you're ever back in the area, let a feller (me) know! I've been reading your blog for a while, so I knew you'd done well on your goal last year – congrats! It's nice to be able to look back and see you've accomplished something you've set out to do.

  6. daniel says:

    If being balanced is different, then aiming for different is a good thing.

  7. Josh says:

    Remember that dude who worked in IT with you at MBBC who would drink like 6 of your cans of Pepsi before noon and ate those disgusting hamburgers from Kwik Trip for breakfast? I always saw him sprinting from Old Main to the library, on some IT mission I guess. I mean really bookin' it over there, like he was going for a world record in the Old Main-to-Cedarholm dash. Your comment that you no longer drink carbonated beverages made me think of it.

  8. M. Kate says:

    LIfe has changed a lot…can't wait to see how much different still it'll be next year.

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