You Oughta Know


Photo © Lisa Gilbert,

So it’s the beginning of the year, and you’re full of optimism. For better or worse, 2011 is over, right? You want this to be a good year. A great one, even. This will be the year. It has to be. Maybe it’ll be the year you earn that degree you’ve been pursuing. Maybe it’ll be the year your first piece gets published, or your thirtieth. Maybe it’ll be the year you finally meet that girl you’ve been aching to find. Maybe it’ll be the year you decide to move across the country, or even the world. Or maybe you’ll take the family to Europe or switch jobs or adopt a child or maybe it’s the year that that thing you’ve been hoping for will happen, the one you wouldn’t dare say out loud because that would tarnish it, would cheapen the one thing you wouldn’t even bring up with your usual confidant, be it your spouse or partner or best friend or mom. You want it to be that thing. You want it badly. I know you do. We all do.

So you want that ineffable thing to become a reality, whatever that might mean. Whether it’s related to your work life or personal life, and whether it’s a tangible goal or the barely discernible outlines of one, you’ve gotta get moving on it. Clock’s a-ticking, right? 

Except that you’re in a rut. You’ve been in one for a little while now, and maybe it’s not such a bad one, nothing like the shitstorms you see others stumbling through, but it’s enough that you notice. Enough that you’ve tried to swerve out of it a few times and been unsuccessful, just settled right back into where you started as if it were the grooves of a Spokane highway. So you tried all the usual suspects, whatever it is you usually try. Maybe you worked out harder, maybe you got drunk, maybe you read more, maybe you even wrote more, furiously trying to type your way outta this thing. Then when that didn’t work, maybe you took a vacation, just a couple of days, really, not a real vacation, not taking a holiday or whatever those sort of people call it, but you tried to get away from things, just enough to try to refill your tank, as they say. Sent the kids to grandma’s for a couple of days or called in sick to work or didn’t return your girlfriend’s text messages. You needed some space, okay?

It didn’t work. You got some sleep, got away, got high, got perspective, got religion, got whatever, but when you got back to it, you were still in the damn rut.

So what the hell?

As Leyna pointed out, some of you will vow to work out 18 times a week and write 20 pages a day for the whole year, while others of you will eschew beginning-of-the-year resolutions and set goals as you go. But at some point, you’re going to find yourself stuck. And you might get tired, maybe even beyond tired, because let’s face it, some of us are going to go through some stuff this year—shit’s going to get real, as they say—and you might find yourself drained of every last reserve of self-motivation, even the ones you didn’t know you had until you’d used them, and even though you hoped there’d be more, assumed there’d be more because you kept finding them like goddamn pennies under the seat of your car–even though you thought those reserves would last forever, they didn’t. Which brings us back to: What the hell do you do then?

Seems like you’ve got options. You could watch earnest clips from TV shows  or movies or blast your favorite record until the walls shake. You could always fight or fuck around or drive too fast, if you’re of the self-destructive persuasion. You could sleep a lot or work a lot or generally pretend things are fine.

Or maybe you could spend time with people who know you best, the kind of people who take one look at your face and know that if they ask, you’re going to lose your shit, so they wait to ask– which is why they’re your people. And maybe you don’t even need to talk about it, maybe you just have a few laughs and drinks and maybe even some dancing with those people, and you walk away feeling ever-so-slightly better, simply because they are smarter and funnier and let’s face it, better looking than you are. Maybe you talk about it, maybe you don’t. Maybe you obsess about it, maybe you don’t. Maybe you fight off the exhaustion, maybe you cave in. But thinking about the year that’s just passed and looking ahead to this one, you oughta know that one way or another, at some point in 2012, you’re going to have to kick hard for the surface.  Which isn’t a bad thing—no reason to dread the months to come like one of those 2012 doomsday crazies. All I’m saying is that sometimes you’ll need a little help to get by, and often a little inspiration can work wonders. The question is, what lights you up? Where, or from whom or what, do you draw inspiration or motivation? Because I don’t know about you, but I could use a little kickstart for the year ahead. Even if it’s something totally ridiculous that makes me laugh out loud, like this oldie-but-goodie.

Here’s my offering to you (which would be a lot better with a video clip, but they all got yanked off of the internet for copyright blah blah blah). So imagine a hockey coach–a good one, former captain of the US Olympic hockey team–the kind of coach you want to be your life coach, exhorting his team after their leading scorer has gone down with an injury and they just found out their captain is out for the season. (Stay with me on this, non-sports fans.) They’re heading into a big game, and he says:

Everybody’s gotta dig in here… There’s something good going here, but fucking every night you gotta fight for it. Tonight’s another example. There are no excuses. We go out there, we give everything we’ve got, we battle for it, we keep things moving in the right direction.

And then he says,

Play fucking hard. Play for each other, support each other, come back to the bench fucking dripping tired with sweat and exhaustion. Then put your foot on the fucking gas.

That sounds like my kind of 2012.


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