Diligence 

Can one still wish others a happy new year? I think one can, especially as long as I’m still writing 2016 for the date. 

So, happy new year. I notice that one usually wishes other things besides happiness for the new year, such as health (a biggie), peace, and strength to meet one’s goals. That’s what I wish for myself and you all as well.

The joke, though, is that while we all wish each other a happy year, there’s a parallel movement to say that January is the worst month of the year. Its winter weather gets a lot of people down (unless you’re in Florida) and unprepared resolutions make life as one knew it a bit miserable (i.e. a new diet, fitness plan, quitting smoking). Add to the list the impending apprehension of a new political leader in the US, and this year seems especially düster –a particularly useful adjective to describe a somber sort of darkness. 

On the other hand, one cannot deny the thrill of a new start. Sitting in a plane, miles above the Atlantic Ocean, I couldn’t deny that the new year marks a possible renewal. The date may be arbitrary (and I’m a fan of making changes at any point they seem necessary, not just the new year), but the period just after holidays filled with celebration, interaction, and lack of routine can bring one to reflect on things one normally does not notice. 

Under such conditions and awarded space and time to reflect on my way back to Berlin after a short stay home in Florida, I thought about what I had done in 2016 and was waiting for in 2017. 

Running was easy to reflect on, since that which was in my control I did pretty well, and I learned a lot. There is perhaps the least room for improvement in this area, but that actually means I need to work on not allowing it to be a priority. That is, I need to be more diligent about being flexible and recognizing that if I don’t do well in my running, it is not as bad as not doing well in other aspects of my life. I tend to procrastinate with the gym, and put more energy into running or weights because the stakes are lower. These are not the years for that. 

Academics for me in 2016 were hills and valleys of accomplishments and disappointments, and I am still waiting to hear about a few applications I submitted in the last year. More than I hope for anything else, I hope for a change in my financial situation that will allow me to focus my energy on PhD work. Furthermore, I have a lot of good habits and ideas for producing good work, but I need to be more diligent about enacting those habits. This includes making the effort again to write something at least everyday, and to do more reading that can be considered in light of my PhD project. This means, unfortunately, that I will likely do less blog reading. I have to; I appologize in advance. 

Health and character wise, diligence is the theme again. I have a lot of knowedge and good habits in regards to nutrition and taking care of my body, but I need to work on enforcing these habits. I have made a few changes in my attitude towards stress eating, which is the biggest road-block to my physical and mental health. I am also working on being a more generous person, and offering my time and resources a little more freely (within reason) without first having the anxious thoughts about how this will ruin my routine and plans. I need to be more flexible. At the same time, this work includes continuing to learn when and how to say “no.”

Finally, I want to be more diligent about taking advantage of the fact I am in Berlin. I can pursue academics in any ivory tower, but I came to Berlin convinced that I would be more inspired by the city’s history, social and literary life. I will make sure to visit at least two events every month. I think that’s a reasonable goal. I am visiting one today: a touring of world famous acrobats. It may not be intellectual, but visiting the MercedesBenz stadium is something I can only do in Berlin, so… 

This will also be the year that I finally make it to England. Date is tentatively set for sometime in the Spring. 

In writing these notes, I don’t share my (potentially boring) goals for the new year with you as much as I suggest that it is the recommitment to old goals that we celebrate in the new year. Time is marked by changes, and I think it’s neat how even small changes can lead to a shift that makes Dec. 2017 different than Dec. 2016. This effect can be dangerous, of course, but also motivating. 

Let me remind you that good things happened in 2016 as well by linking to this surprisingly useful Tumblr post. It wasn’t all bad, and we can still do the work to make 2017 better. 

When I see a lamppost in snow, I think of C.S. Lewis. When I think of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I wonder if Narnia as allegorical space can tell us something about a world doomed to perpetual winter. What needs to change? Can we change it?

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33 comments

  1. You’re right to be worried about the new POTUS… Use of the IRS to attack American citizens, use of the bureaucracy to silence free speech, a complete misunderstanding of Russia and allowing that bully to invade surrounding countries, corporate welfare, corporate bailouts, soaring Healthcare costs, insurance that only works when it comes time for the insurance companies to take your money (10-15% of your monthly income), insidiously tight regulation, taxing the hell out of good behavior while subsidizing bad….

    Oh, wait…. that was the last guy! Oops.

    Fear not! Once you get out of the echo chamber that is modern academia, you’ll have a chance to see things for how they are, not as they are dressed up to appear.

    Other than that little bit, good luck in ’17! Know that the majority of us who hire people are excited for the new year! 😆 🖒

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  2. Happy New Year and while it might signal some changes, it also allows us to build upon the good work that we have already done. Life is a journey and there are many forks in the roads we travel. The choices we make based upon what we have learned and done before is the norm. It is when we decide to take the leap of faith and jump onto a different path altogether that change happens. Are you looking for change or more of the same. Neither is bad and both can be good, but it depends on how you are looking to write your story this year and in the future.

    I have a feeling you will have a great year, but most of all Keep Smiling and having fun, life is so much more than we believe it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always thought that the last day it’s ok o not awkward to wish a Happy New Year is on the 10th, so you are safe lol.
    The last couple of months of 2016 were a huge mess, hopefully 2017 will be better or at least let us have Betty White for another year.
    Have a happy 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good luck in the new year and with your goals. And don’t let anybody from the right wing lie-machine fool you, this new POTUS is a clear and present danger, not the least to the values of America (which is why the right wing love him so).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not fooled. I’m just walking a line between the strong language about Trump from both sides and thinking critically about what he’s done, and prepared to watch closely what he does.
      Thanks for the good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Some times strong charges are warranted. For example, there is no doubt that Trump does not regard veracity as an important attribute. That makes him a dangerous man.

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  5. This was wonderful and I love “duster”! I am starting to feel a bit of the winter blues but i also know it won’t last. I wish you all the best with your Ph.D. endeavors this year and success in your goals!

    Liked by 1 person

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