My Three Words for 2013

Chris Brogan has unleashed a meme, or narrative construct, that helps sum up what you want to work on, change or improve in the coming year.

My friend, Dian Crawford, is participating in #mythreewords. Her three words are “Velocity, Simplicity and Laughter.” I had to consider my three words for a bit, but eventually landed on Grateful, Committed and Traditional.

Grateful. My mom is a glass-half-full person. But this trait did not come down to me via genetics or environment. I am quick to point out what is missing, rather than what is there. Can I change this about myself? I think I can, but it will take a realignment of sorts and a more spiritual approach. Speaking of, we watched this little film last night called Happy. The filmmakers visited people around the world who are happy and the common denominator, in case after case, is close connections to family and friends. When you have these bonds at the center of your life–and to a large degree Darby and I do–you have much to be grateful for. So, I can look at my present work situation, for instance, and a) chastise myself for not earning more money and making a bigger name for myself in the four years since leaving my last job, or b) I can see that I am more successful now than ever, on the right path and that the money and recognition will come. Bottom line, I am grateful to make a living as a writer and thankful for all the people who help make this reality possible.

Committed. I have lots of ideas and my mind wanders. For most of my life my body wandered with it, from one state to the next, one job to the next and from one group of friends to the next. I am grateful for the depth and diversity of experiences, no question, but I’m also intentionally working to go deep, to connect and plant roots. Oregon may not be the perfect place for this, but no place is. Advertising may not be the perfect profession either. But since when is perfection required? What is required is confidence that being here in Oregon is right and good, that all can be achieved here, as a writer, a businessman and a person. On the writerly front, I will need to be more committed than ever, as my plans for 2013 are on the ambitious side. I intend to write fewer blog posts and more long-form pieces, including new short stories and a book about marketing. The plan is to write a chapter or story a week for 16 weeks starting now.

Traditional. I got a record player for Christmas this year and a collection of used records, including Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell, Katy Lied by Steely Dan and Happy To Be Just Like I Am, by Taj Mahal, among others. I grew up in an analog world, but I lost touch with it. I do not see losing tough with it as a positive. There’s no doubt that I was (and still am) genuinely excited by certain digital developments like push-button publishing and streaming radio. But it’s not all good. For me, it’s about using common sense and determining what is, and is not, an actual advance. Take cell phones. They suck as phones, but we accept the dropped calls, the spotty reception and lack of audio quality (to say nothing of the high prices) as the new norm. It’s stupid. You know what else is stupid? I was driving on I-5 today and this guy in the middle lane was going way too slow. I passed him on the right, as I approached my exit and I looked over to see him texting. On I-5 with cars and trucks everywhere going 60+ miles per hour. We’ve made some advances connected to digital culture, but we’ve also regressed. Of course, I can’t concern myself with which video games are rotting the minds of millions, or what other corrupt forces are at work. All I can do is pause, examine and evaluate for myself what I find valuable and what I do not. Increasingly, I see that Facebook and Twitter can be enriching, but there’s a cost attached–even if the cost is only time spent. I want to write and read books, not completely out of context microbursts from friends and strangers. Ergo, I will be grateful for and committed to our traditional works of American literature (like Moby Dick, which I have started to read on my Kindle).

It occurs to me now, I could change my three words to “Read Moby Dick” and call it good.

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