As I stand at the beginning of 2013, I feel like I’m facing the drying black slate of an old chalkboard, freshly cleaned and awaiting my mark.
I also feel like Bart Simpson yet again, standing with chalk in hand, beginning to write what I do every time I have this very typical first-of-the-year dream: “I will not make New Year's resolutions, I will not make New Year's resolutions, I will not make…” The sentences flow from my hand as my mouth repeats each word.
There is also a strange perversion in knowing that as I write the words, I am, in a way, actually making a resolution much like a clever Catholic during Lent, attempting to circumvent the holy pledge by giving up on giving up things.
All of us, in these acts of what feels like clever defiance, have in turn given up and not really participated.
This year, I decided to go easy on myself and not call them resolutions, but rather an overview of my year. Given all that we experienced in the up and down year of 2012, I figured a little pause might be in order before we get too far ahead.
1.) I will learn to accept compliments with grace and poise. I cannot tell you how many times I have missed this one by being too daft at the moment to hear the gem buried within my filter which seems to hold up these complimentary words while giving words such as "sushi buffet," "open bar" and "karaoke" a velvet rope free pass without a thought.
This was never more evident than on the occasion when I was having a conversation on the street with local artist Paul Collins.
He asked how I’d been. I replied I had just returned from my NYC art opening. As I wrapped it up, I concluded by saying, “But it was in a basement gallery in SoHo."
I had barely gotten the words out when Paul shot back, “Now, why would you do that? I just paid you a compliment on having a show in New York, and you discounted my compliment by saying something negative. Be proud of your accomplishments.”
He was right. We need to be better to ourselves and appreciate our accomplishments, even when they are not necessarily as perfect as we imagine they could have been.
2.) Don't be catty. This is one that I equate to eating something sugary. It is addicting. But when the crash comes, it slows us down. I know it is far easier to write and much harder to practice, but here's to replacing this kind of sugar with a sweeter and healthier alternative.
3.) Start something new. The fresh-paths philosophy is the stuff of poetry and pop music because these pursuits are timeless, plentiful, and always some of the most exciting times in our lives because of the unknowns.
For example, there are two events this week where you can stand at beginnings.
One is the “Heavyweights of Metal” and the other is the “Funniest Person in Grand Rapids." These serial events begin this week and will take you on a wild journey that is not probably a part of your norm, but could lead to something fresh and new.
4.) Be an ambassador when outside the city limits, not just a cheerleader. It is easy to like a cheerleader, but the reality is that in the end, they promote a fantasy from the sidelines that is often shattered once the score is settled.
By being an ambassador to others on your journey, you are diplomatic in your sharing. It means that with those you encounter abroad, it is sometimes wiser to listen than to act like the visiting home team. After the game, they may only have that obligatory stop at McDonald’s to look forward to on the way back to their home.
Your time abroad will no doubt give you opportunities to be not just an ambassador, but also a storyteller on par with NPR’s The Moth. We have lots to share, so pick the best of our region to take with you when you pack that suitcase. None of us work on a commission when promoting our city, so just take a deep breath the next time a good or bad article drops because as we evolve and grow, there will be plenty more to follow.
5.) Be bold on behalf of others. I believe as we get older, it is actually easier to advocate on behalf of those who are in need in our community. We see the needs for advocacy in our family, friends, and co-workers, but most often in diverse populations in our community. Every outlook should encourage an element of working for the greater good of our society.
So, let me be bold right now. I will even predict that in 2013 (and through the assistance of the various groups including Until Love Is Equal, Hope is Ready, and Holland is Ready), we will finally see the LGBT of the Holland community begin to share the same level of (or better) protections that tulips have enjoyed there for a long time.
I may not have a crystal ball, but I can see that the council will capitulate to the mighty arm of justice. History informs us that the change is coming, but how long must they wait? I think this year, the healing will begin in granting protections and the world will not end as a result.
Turning away from my blackboard, I plunge headfirst, deep into the fresh blue waters of 2013 with you, as we begin my fifth year as Lifestyle Editor of Rapid Growth. The journey each year has provided bumps and surprises that we never saw coming. It is what makes the journey exciting.
During the process of crafting our story, as we make our history together, I still believe as I did when I first wrote these words:
The Future Needs All of Us.
Get the heart of the city's best events here in G-Sync Events