Sunday, December 6, 2009

The 5 (warning: illiteration and liberal use of hyphens ahead)

'Tis the season for lists: gift lists, "he's making a list and checking it twice" lists, thank-you lists, New-Year's-Resolutions lists, food-to-eat-and-deliver-the-death-blow-to-your-already-hopelessly-shattered-last-
New-Year's-Resolution list ... you get the picture. Well - and this really should come as no surprise to you if you actually read the previous, poorly constructed sentence - I have a list of my own! It's one that I have been formulating for years - altering, cutting and adding as necessary - that has finally settled down in 4-solid tasks and one big question mark; oh, that's right my faithful followers, fair-weather friends and fearless foes, I am speaking of none other than the fun-to-write-but-rarely-actualized Life-Goals Lists (dum-da-da-dum)!! Don't be fooled - this isn't just another life-goals lists; it is long-pondered, hard-thought and realistic ... "Wait! What's that?!" you say, "a realistic life-goals lists?" That's right - no curing AIDS, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, owning the world's largest private library fantasies on this list ... anymore ...! Another difference: it's short. Condensed from approximately 100-I've-already-done-them-so-they-might-as-well-go-on-my-list tasks to 5. The idea behind this list was that I wanted to only include things that were:
1) important to me personally without the need for explanation or apology
2) quantifiable with an end-point (meaning no subjective and ongoing, "be a good person/partner/kitty mom/etc.")
3) achievable by my will, strength, motivation, etc. alone, completely independent of outside source (meaning, no prizes or "world's largest/best/biggest" allowed) but also things I have to work hard for (emotionally, physically, mentally)
4) already apart of who I am (meaning I'm not trying to become someone I'm not, but rather play to my strength and the things I already enjoy)
Additionally, I didn't want too many things on the list; if there is a limit to the number, then you really have to decide what is the most important goals for your life. So, what have I come up with? Like I said, there are 4 solid goals, and one is still up in the air - I don't want to pick life-goals willy-nilly, after all! The goals I have so far have been years in the making; I figure that the last one will come when it's time. Okay, okay! I'll end the suspense that is driving you all mad.

#1) Take a walking journey. I'm not entirely sure where this one came from - maybe my time backpacking through Eastern and Central Europe when I spent WAY more time on a bus than was really necessary or healthy! I had really wanted to walk from town to town - when they were close enough - and the few times that this did happen were some of the greatest times on the trip. You have to slow down when you walk, take in your environment, be in tune with your body, and - of course - you have lots of time to think. I also love backpacking; the strength necessary to carry 40 lbs. over 50 miles, the self-sufficiency of carrying all your necessities on your back, and the ultimate feeling of accomplishment when you're done. It's the idea of a pilgrimage without the religious fervor. This definitely plays on the "solitude" part of my life; I'm a fairly reserved person ... most of the time ... I very much like my alone time and quite, open space to think. I also love being outside; I feel the most connected to and at peace with myself, the earth and some sort of potential "other world" when I'm alone or quietly with someone in nature.

#2) Run a marathon. This is the goal that has been on my list the longest - since high school. I was on my way once, but bad knees and early mornings foiled my plans, and here I am - 3 years later and 10 pounds heavier - still dreaming the dream, eating too much junk food and drinking too much wine. Good news on this front, however: finally having medical insurance has allowed me to get my knees checked and go through physical therapy so I can run again ... $4000 for doctor's appointments, MRIs and physical therapy appointments is great motivation (and people say we don't need health care reform, like $3000 for an MRI on your knees is normal and anyone can do it - please - imagine my eye-rolling here)! So why stick with this goal through so much hardship and misplaced motivation? Bragging rights! Come on! Also, and only slightly more seriously, I just want to prove to myself that I can do it! It requires dedication, motivation, and perseverance - all things that I'm afraid I lack; I want to do it because it will be hard for me, and that seems like a good enough reason. That said, however, this goal plays on my determined - some call it hard-headedness - character. If someone, even myself, says I can't do something, or doubts that I can/will, I want nothing more than to prove them wrong, and won't stop until I do. Also, I really do like running; I don't necessarily like the preliminaries to running - shuffling, huffing and gasping really - but once I'm in shape, I love picking a country road and getting into a rhythm ... bliss.

#3) Earn a doctoral degree: this one almost didn't make the cut - I just wasn't sure if I wanted it enough to make it an honest life goal, and I simply wasn't sure what I wanted to get it in - nothing seemed particularly practical if I wasn't planning to teach university. What finally made up my mind with this one, however, was my interest in geology ... hang in there, I promise this relates ... So, I recently decided/discovered that I'm interested in geology - chemical geology and paleontology specifically - and, if I had it all to do again, I would have gone to school for that rather than art (ha! yes, yours truly was truly an art major in college ... weren't my parents supposed to dissuade me from art school?!). Then I decided that, after I'm done getting my masters in Public Policy, I'll just start over and get a B.S. in Geology ... which in the end really just reminded me how much I love school. I really, really love going to school; it doesn't matter to me if getting a doctorate makes me a better job candidate or not, I want the degree because I want the degree - because I'm going to be in school anyway, so why not have the highest degree to show for it. I guess this plays to my super-clique thirst for knowledge. I love learning new things, I love the process of it and the outcome; I love talking about new things I've learned and getting different perspectives to help draw my own conclusions. I just really enjoy school, and once I sat down and really thought about it, this goal was a no-brainer.

#4) Complete a genealogical chart of my matriarchal line. My dad does genealogy, so I have grown up with the stories of my family, but - because the women got married and changed their names, essentially dropping off the family tree at that point - they were almost always the stories of men. I generally believe in the idea of a "family unconsciousness" - think collective unconscious combined with "the sins of the father" kind of idea, but not necessarily only sins. I like to think that we all carry the experiences/ideas/understandings of our ancestors, and have come to some interesting conclusions based on the stories of the men in my family, but half of my familial unconscious is missing because I don't know the stories of my maternal ancestors. I need to know those stories; I need to know where that part of me comes from and how it affects who I am; I need to give voice to their stories to help me understand my own. This goal is best described as my "spiritual" goal. The connection through time and exploring ideas of who you are and what has made you that way seems to me to fit into the "spiritual" category; also, that's just the way I feel about it when I think of this goal ... it feels spiritual to me, and that is that.

#5) Unknown. As I said, I'm not sure what this goal will be yet, but I feel strongly there needs to be five, and the other goals took some time to come to, so I'm not rushing the process. I will let it come as it will.

So - where to go from here. I've taken little steps towards several of them - well, all of them really. I'm not entirely sure how it will play out, but the reason I have decided to blog about it is because it's time I stop thinking about them and actually start realizing them. I have ideas of where I'm going to start - need to look at some logistical things before I reveal my next step - but never-fear, I will blog about them all the way!!

Okay, now it's your turn. Given the 4 guidelines I've set out for myself (review: important to you personally, quantitative (no, "I want to be a good person/parent/partner" allowed, as nice of a goal as that is), achievable by your own strength (independent of outside sources), and part of who you already are), what are your top-five life goals?