Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Nov. 27
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- Bohemian Opus
Reluctant Reflections and Non-Resolutions
Around the end of the year, we Americans feel compelled to look at the past 365 days and decide what we can do to make the next 365 days better.
I was never one to get all excited over New Year’s resolutions. They always reminded me of my childhood when I had to relinquish something for Lent.
“How about liver?” I consistently responded to the what-are-you-giving-up question. I hated liver.
According to the Chinese horoscope, 2013 will be the Year of the Snake—more precisely, the water snake. Snakes are not my favorite animals. I was much more excited about the Year of the Dragon. Dragons are cool.
Ancient Chinese wisdom says that people born in the Year of the Snake are keen, cunning, intelligent, wise and lucky. They are great mediators and good at doing business. The Year of the Snake is supposedly good for scientists and scholars. So far, none of these snake things apply to me. Maybe I should just skip this year and go straight to the Year of the Horse.
Some horoscopes say 2013 will be the Year of the Black Snake. I lived in Florida where there are black snakes that are also water snakes. Imagine the entire 2013-snake year wrapped up in one disgusting reptile. The Floridian black water snakes are very aggressive. If one of those critters gets into a swimming pool, it will chase whatever else is in the pool including humans. And it is impossible to outwit them. I tried.
But, I digress.
This year, on December 31 around midnight, I’ll probably do what I always do—drink tea and listen to jazz. Although I’m not one to list the five happiest, saddest or funniest events of the past year, I’ll probably drag out some photos and mull over a few of the more outstanding highlights—like the trip to San Francisco over the Memorial Day weekend. That was fun. I got to see my friend, Choogie, hike at Big Sur, visit some old hangouts and try out some new food. I’m always up for trying new food—unless it is snake.
Since I retired, every day has been just about perfect. The only exception being the time it has taken me to let go of my former lifestyle and embrace one that includes activities such as relaxing and contemplating my navel.
When I first left the workforce, I found myself stressing as if I still had a job. Everything was a task that I had to complete perfectly and on time. I guess it was sometime last spring when I realized that if my cooking sucked or I didn’t clean the bathroom, it would not be noted on my performance evaluation. I was finally able to exhale.
Then I got the urge to paint. I also thought about becoming a ballerina, but at my age, painting was more doable. I painted in oils many years ago, but when I moved from California to Florida, I became depressed and stopped. I didn't think I would ever paint again until I returned to California and once again felt inspired. I figured I should at least give it a try.
I picked up a brush and enrolled in some online classes and a few workshops. After a shaky start, I realized that I had not forgotten much. I was a little rusty, but before long I was painting with confidence once again. Now painting, along with writing, takes priority over everything else.
I am not planning on making any resolutions—unless I resolve to never again clean the bathroom or do anything else that is boring. I have no regrets that another year is passing, and have no expectations or desires for the New Year. I’ll kiss the dragon goodbye and keep on living exactly as I do now—with the exception of maybe trying to make peace with the black water reptile.