Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

1. Give Less of a Fuck
Don't confuse this attitude with nihilism - the most current form of human cowardice. I mean there are things that a person might worry about: reputation; causing offence to other people; the standard of service offered to customers. But life is way too short to be eager to please, and you can't please wankers, so don't try. And most people have undesirable criteria for being pleased anyway. But don't listen to me, watch this

2. Finish my second novella
This will require sacrificing other worthwhile activities, and maybe one or two friendships too. There are always excuses for delaying such things, but you can't wait to be old enough or wise enough. The future is now.

3. Finish Anything Goes: An Advanced Reader of Modern Chinese
It doesn't sound like a tall order to finish one textbook in the space of 1 year. But I am living in a 花花世界 (lit. Flower-flower world) a world of temptations so this will require willpower and involve fluctuations in enthusiasm.

4. Worry less about love
These things usually happen best when unforced. And living in the mysterious East has taught me that there's nothing natural or inevitable about how sex-obsessed our Anglo-American culture is. I have never been to Australia, and never watched a cricket match but I can't stop watching this

5. Push myself musically
I'm unlikely to improve as a guitarist, but my new hobby is learning and writing Chinese songs. I have no idea what this will lead to, but I like it a lot.

6. Just Do It
This is closely tied in with number 1. But as Baz Luhrman said in Sunscreen, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself too much either. Most of what you do is a matter of chance. On my Chinese blog, I recently wrote a post entitled "Words without Translation" words in both languages that had no translation into the other. One word I forgot to mention was "geek." In China, the concepts of looking down upon the bookish, or separating the real world from the world of books are very foreign. To illustrate this point, most people use the Sui dynasty poem 书中自有黄金屋/书中自有颜如玉 "In books there is always a Golden house, in books there is always a beautiful woman." I just like to use the fact that they're realy fucking into reading books to illustrate this. Nobody who has lived, or knows of the recent history of this country could be unaware of the limitations of being a 读书人 lit. "read-books person" or intellectual.
Anyway, I'm not sure where this is going, but somehow it leads to the conclusion, if you want to achieve something, just get the fuck on with achieving it.

1 comment:

Nick Herman said...

Boy, after reading this, I'm sure I thought of #1 at least two or three times today after certain events transpired (or were about to). Hard to draw the boundaries for me. I really like seeing people pleased and like to think I can get on with many different people, but there's always that "WTF" point, isn't there?

As far as #6 goes, interestingly enough, I've seen several people write that one down now for whatever reason, though I think yours captures a but more of the subtleties. In the balance of ego, I have always found the following quote by Epictetus very instructive: "Ignorant people blame others for their own misfortunes; those people partially wise learn to blame themselves; the truly wise need not blame either themselves or others."
(2nd case of thinking of #1 was when I commented on the LJ of a long-absent former-school-mate with that quote in response to very much the same thing you write of, and received a surprisingly flippant "Don't think this advice necessarily applies to me, I don't think you really know me as well as you think you do.")

Contrary to your statement, "Most of what you do is a matter of chance," she offered a quote by Laozi that spoke about destiny, and then countered that it was purely about cause and effect.
Hm. I guess there was a time in my life when the chain between intentions and outcomes seemed clear, but nowadays it seems hard to find it anything other than pretty murky.

Case in point, my only resolution is to make more meaningful connections with others in the area. This is really like a non-resolution since, as much as I would like to believe there is a definite method to discovering such people, my life experience has proven such a pursuit to be a random crapshoot totally outside my expectations. The main lesson I've gotten from that is to lower one's expectations of others and don't anticipate. When you anticipate, you kill worlds of possibility, trying to grasp something that hasn't yet materialized, and may turn into something else completely based on the direction your mind is (or isn't) going in.

That and watch more things with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in it. Just saw Shaun of the Dead last week--brilliant!