Thursday 10 February 2022

One month (ish) into 2022

 So....I don't like New Year's Resolutions, but I like to have Intentions. Although I don't commit to anything in December, because January and often February are tough months. It's cold, it's dark, sickness is everywhere, people are who needs more pressure? Not me!

But, having gotten through January, and suffering nothing worse than a suspected sinus infection so far, here are what I've been pondering as Intentions this year:

I've been thinking more and more about actively participating in culture, and in creating reality. Jonathan Pageau is so good at articulating why participation is important. Listening to his ideas has helped me to understand and clarify what I think is the best use of my time. This is not really a new matter. Starting around 2015, I have been less and less interested in passive entertainment. Of course I will go see a movie on a date or with the kids. But I have almost no interest in watching or "getting into" a show, for example. The big techno-cultural institutions have no clue how to entertain me, and (no) surprise, I don't care. The only unfortunate part of this is I lose a whole area of small talk. My answer to "Oh, have you seen .......?" It's soooooo good!!" is some version of "No....and I probably never will, but go ahead tell me about it and I'll try to find something to relate to!" 

So, what do I do for fun? Well, I'm reading books, though I now need a reason for reading one, some sort of context to put it in. I'm more interested in the values of the writers and how they are participating in culture. Reading fiction in particular feels like renting out space in my brain and imagination to another person. I still enjoy doing that, but I'm not just accepting anyone as a tenant. So I'm most likely to read books I've heard recommended by people I trust, or writers who I hear interviewed on one of the podcasts I regularly listen to. It's about depth more so than breadth. Any sort of filter will have its limitations and flaws, I'm aware of that, but I don't have the attentional energy for anyone and everyone, that's reality.

I'm aware of and appreciating my community groups more and more. My stepdancing group is still going strong, and I seriously hope I'm dancing with these ladies into my 70s. Our teacher already works with seniors and is a role model for participation and activity at all ages. I love that there is a performance aspect to this group, though I think of it more as sharing tradition/creating culture versus "people looking at me." Which is as it should be.

This year my daughters are also involved in Ukrainian dance. They have been enjoying it so far, and I'm enjoying being a (chill) dance mama too! I was never into competition, and neither are the girls so far. But again, the focus of this organization is creating community and tradition, and I'm loving it. I have to do things like volunteer for bingos. I was dubious at first, but then I really enjoyed just being in a novel situation with people I didn't know and having to figure out a job together. I appreciated the people at the bingo hall. They are 95% female, mostly 50 and over I'd say. I would not want to be a bingo regular myself, I don't think. But even being there a few hours, I could see that the staff and the clients have a relationship. The time they spend together is serving them a purpose, and it's not all cynical and sad, not at all. Finally, I realized it doesn't bother me when people ask me to take on responsibility, to make a sacrifice of time and energy. That's what I genuinely want! 

Of course, there is a cost. Participation is much harder work. There are evenings where I only want to collapse in front of the TV. But I have a commitment to get myself or the kids to dance class so off we go.  When I am actively involved with an organization, I am also more aware of how difficult it is to keep institutions and traditions going. It's harder to take things for granted or ignore people, and all their baggage. It's harder to close the door on the world, even when I want to. But....that's also good, in the long run. And the world I'm letting into my life is not abstract, not hostile, not fear inducing (most of the time). It's people like me. People I relate to, and/or give grace to. 

I'm really looking forward to the girls' first performance, which has been rescheduled once, but will hopefully happen soon on the new date. But, I have also decided that I am not going to be cheated out of anticipation, in the performing arts or in general. I am going to believe and work as if all the good things and events I look forward to will happen. If they don't, well that's sad. However, I still will have the fun of anticipating, practicing, working with others. If I don't believe anything is possible, then I miss out on all that, and that's worse than a few cancelled events. 

At work. Oh, work is always interesting and complicated. I have a great team, and I'm very grateful for them and I think they are a positive influence on me, and I truly bring value. We have some great complementary personalities. We share a vision and a work ethic.  There are also personality conflicts and stressors and tense meetings within the larger organization. I could write a novel! or a reality TV series. There are big problems we can't and won't solve alone, or at all. There are people at the edge of their sanity, and no bloody wonder. There are people whose ideas I disagree with, even though I'd walk through fire with them. Reality, right?

I guess if I was to sum it up, it would be to keep finding and working with the "Yes people."  You know when you have an idea, there are people who will tell you all the reasons it won't work, or why they won't commit, and then there are people who just hear you and add something, then you add something else, and on it goes? Maybe it ends in an amazing project, or maybe it ends in a belly laugh all around. Well we need everyone I'm sure, but damn, I love the second kind of people! I call them Yes people. And of course not all ideas are good or happen. But when you have a collective of Yes people, everything feels lighter. And we can admit mistakes, and face difficulties, and change direction, when necessary, without rancor.

I should add, being a Yes person doesn't mean you agree to everything or try to do everything for everyone. That is crazy (though we all are crazy sometimes, maybe more often than not). It's more about maintaining openness, when surrounded by forces within and without that are trying to shut you down (anger, fear, doubt, anxiety, lack of faith in yourself, etc). It's not easy, but it's better than fighting with negative forces you probably can't win against. 

Well, this is very long and rambly. If I was to sum it up? My intentions for 2022 are to be as involved as I can, in things that actually build up my life and others', and that can be part of my life for a long time. It's to be a Yes person and find the Yes people. When the Yes people get talking, then things happen. And then things fall apart, but you laugh and hold each other up through the chaos and the reality warping. And then things start to happen again.