Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Circular File

It's January, the season when many people make a decision to make changes in their lives.  Most people call these New Year's Resolutions, and I've never been a fan of them.  All you have to do is go on Craigslist and see all the "barely used" treadmills and stairsteppers and ab busters to know that people are better at making resolutions than keeping them.

I too have made some, of course, but usually they've wound up having the same durability as a boat made of bathroom tissue, so some years ago, I resolved to stop making them.  It's been the only New Year's Resolution I've ever kept.

This year I've been sorely tempted to fall off my no resolution wagon, but having a good ten years of "clean time" I'm hesitant to give it back.  So instead, I've decided to not make a resolution, but to just make an effort. 

I've noticed lately around the web that people are more aware than ever how completely screwed up things are around the globe.  There's outrage over gun violence, gun controls, gang rapes in India, "Obamacare," genetically modified foods, bankers getting huge raises for pillaging the world economy, the "debt ceiling," Congress not doing its job,  et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  

I've also noticed that, in terms of reaction to all this screwed-upness, people seem to largely fall into two categories--those who are waiting for someone else to fix it, and those who have given up on it ever being fixed.  I've been preaching for some time now that it's a bad idea to fall into either of those categories, and instead to carve out a third one--people who are going to do something about it. 

The danger of putting yourself in this third category, which I'll call "fixers" for short, is that we fixers are each limited in what we can do in a practical, three-dimensional, world about many of these issues.  I, for example, have lots of ideas of what should be done, but find myself distinctly short of people asking my opinion.  This can lead to a lot of emotion--frustration, anger, fear, and so on--and ultimately, to slipping closer to becoming one of those in the first two categories.   It's sort of like opening the closet to get your favorite (hand-knitted, beautifully colored, wool) sweater to go work in the yard, and getting clobbered by a pile of junk tumbling out.   It's off-putting, and can lead to little yardwork (or fixing) getting done.

I don't want that to happen, and so I need to get rid of as many of those emotions as possible so I can find my sweater and tune in more to the things that I CAN do in my own little sphere of influence to un-screw that which is currently screwed up.  It's not easy, for a fixer.

I've come up with a handy tool for doing this--the spiritual Circular File.  Here's a rendition that is similar to my invention:

This handy device of the mind is my New Year's Effort.  Each day, I'm going to spend a moment or two looking around my mind for the detritus of being a fixer--frustration, anger, fear, judgment, annoyance, worry, the stray bit of snarkiness, etc., and toss them toward my invention for containment and ultimate removal.  Notice how the invention is already full--I've been working at it.  Notice also that I've missed a couple of times already.  I think that's ok.  I'll try again later.     

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