God, I don’t feel that old.
Wow, this year has gone fast! It seems like just yesterday I was starting the 365 Days Project on Flickr and now here I’ve finished it. That was an interesting experience. Not quite what I thought it would be and I’m not entirely sure it accomplished everything I was hoping it would, but it did force me to grow in my photography and get more comfortable with myself and my camera. I have to admit, I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with all the “extra” creative time that I won’t be spending obsessing over what to do for my next self-portrait. Honestly, it feels a little weird, since for the past year, a significant focus of my creative energy has been spent on this project and I feel almost at a loss to know what creative direction to head next. I know I want to take a break and sort of get my feet under me, but then, I know I’ll want to do more with my photography than I have so far and I intend it to take me much farther from my comfort zone than it already has. But, I’m still not entirely sure what I’m willing to committ to next, so I’m trying to be open to whatever feels right.
Aside from that, it’s been an unexceptional year for me in most ways.
Many things have not changed at all and I’m certainly not where I thought or even hoped I’d be in many aspects of my life. For instance, I still work at the same company, doing the same things. I still have fairly massive debt, especially medical debt. I’m still quite very single. I still dabble in art and what I do still lacks a certain amount of passion. Well, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that my creative work suffers from an abundance of restraint, repression and control.
I have started to lose weight and get into better shape, which I definitely feel is a prerequisite for dating, for me. I’m down about thirty pounds since last year, which means I’m just under two-hundred. Far more importantly, I’m in better shape now than I have been in close to eleven years. I’m leaner, stronger and if not more resilient, at least not significantly less. I still need more work, but I’m finally getting to a point that I’m comfortable with my physical self. I may never be truly satisfied, but, I am at least headed in a much more healthy and satisfying direction.
I’m still not sure about relationships and dating and all that chaos right now. I keep telling myself that I’ll do that soon, but, honestly, I’m not sure how soon that will be. I know I don’t want to be alone forever, but, right now, doing the things that I need to do to change that seem life more work than it’s worth. Obviously, at some point, I’ll take those emotional risks and make myself vulnerable in that way to someone, but, well, not during the holidays.
I’m sure there are many who would find it somewhat amusing to think of me this way, but I am very delicate in some ways. I have scars on my heart and memory from the ways the phrase “I love you” has been used as a tool against me. And, from the results of my saying those words without fully meaning them. Rising above some of the wreckage of my past seems too difficult a task some days, though I know that there are many who have far greater obstacles to their happiness and their futures.
So, I try to take it all one day at a time.
I try not to worry too much about what will come and just live in the now. I suspect that a lot of cancer survivors do the same.
And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all the other famous people who had the good luck to be born on this particular day. Famous people like Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Jennifer Connelly, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, Edvard Munch, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
All heady company to be sure, but for whatever reason, it tickles me the most that I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra. I guess it’s because he was such a unique and original character who really fought against and beat some long odds to become an amazingly famous, generally well thought of character. I can only hope to do the same, one day.
So, I don’t know what the coming year will bring, but I know I’ll be in a different place than I am today. My dream is that in the next year I’ll have gotten paid for some piece of photographic work, that I’ll have written more in general and more fiction, that I’ll have taken more emotional and spiritual risks by opening myself to others. My hope is that the attempt to do these things will be driven not from a sense of fear of what will happen to me if I don’t chase those dreams, but, rather, a sense of hope and courage and adventure and the possiblity of growth and positive, directed change.
There are no guarantees, of course, but those hopes and dreams provide me a road map for where to head next and a guide to my choices for the next year.
I hope you’ll all be here with me, to see just where I end up and how I get there.
Advice from your Uncle Jim:
You don't have to be a genius to succeed. You just have to be the cleverest monkey in the cage.