I'm doing OK.
I have a complicated relationship with New Years resolutions. Like many people, I am filled with hope and a sense of rejuvenation as January 1 approaches, making a list of all the changes I'd like to make for a better me. I'm at something of a turning point in my life, making this year's annual resolutions something of a come-to-Jesus undertaking. For the past ten years I've enjoyed the luxury of writing the Killing books, which allows me to research and write at a much deeper level than ever before, while also allowing me to spend afternoons equally absorbed in coaching my distance runners. Right now we are at book #9 of the series, with one more to go. There may be a book #11 — or maybe more. We shall see. The writing hasn't grown tired and the formula keeps changing, so the Killing books are still fresh. But even if we go forward it's time for me to also write a new book of my own.
Last night, I sat alone in my office listening to the vinyl for Springsteen on Broadway. We had company here at the house and I needed a few minutes escape to recharge my batteries, so I grabbed my glass of red wine and slipped away. All the research for the newest Killing book was sprawled before me on my desk in heaping piles of books and paper — a true proper mess. My eyes fell to the bookshelves on the other side of the room, and two separate rows of books, each on a shelf marking their own place of honor. One row was the books I've written on my own. The other row was books I've co-authored with Mark Burnett, James Patterson and Bill O'Reilly. They are not in different locations because they come from different parts of my brain, or that I'm more proud of one than another. In fact, until a month ago they were all placed side by side atop a bureau, before I realized they were spilling over the sides and falling onto the floor. It's a lot of books. Hence, the division.
Soon enough, Callie found me and suggested I rejoin the party. My hiding place is well known in the family, as are my disappearances when I need to gather myself, so I knew she'd come for me sooner or later. But before I went back inside, I realized that my personal works are now outnumbered by books I've co-authored. And this doesn't even include the books I've ghosted, and am not contractually allowed to mention in print. You should see the NDA for those books. One of these days I'll find a way to spin those stories into a narrative collection, starting with the weekend in Vegas featuring lime-green slushies and room service corn dogs. That day will come. But everyone's alive right now, so that book will have to wait. I like to avoid the lawyers whenever possible.
Having said that, the time is now to write a new book of my own. Part of me wants to hole up in Mammoth for a week, then pour words onto the page in the manner of William F. Buckley with his Blackford Oakes series, writing a complete book in just seven days.
Another part of me wants to write something of greater introspection and heft, doing so with the realization that a simple stroll through any bookstore means an overwhelming array of titles defined by navel-gazing. Everyone has a book in them, and it's generally about their trauma this and trauma that. As someone who has written my share of those, I find it all a little overdone. For instance, as much as I love my running book, the simple fact of going back ten years later and re-ordering the table of contents while also adding new essays had me a little tired of even my own voice. The running book is richer for the redo, but I was appalled by how lazy some of my writing was back when I first pulled it together. I was thankful for the chance to tighten it up.
The third book idea is the one I need to write: something that pushes me, makes me think, is not about me, and makes the reader want to turn the page. Those are the great books.
So that's one resolution still ongoing. That book will get written between March and July. I can definitely say it's going to happen.
The other resolutions are going just OK. I've been consistent with my mobility exercises, even making sure to spend time on hotel room floors in Cheyenne and Billings during a recent road trip, working the muscles and joints.
The meditation is going so-so. I'm hit and miss with mindfulness.
Haven't even touched the piano.
Training is going great. I've been on the bike 4-5 times a week and ramping up the core work. I've even been running in the pool.
The diet is not so good. I watch my food and drink, but can't commit to the full blown deprivation needed to shed the weight goal I made for my resolution. So I've decided to be good to myself, and chart any step in the right direction as progress. I'm sick of beating myself up for not being perfect. Thus, the drive-thru Sausage Egg McMuffin for breakfast this morning. Delicious.
I should also mention that somewhere over the last thirty years I changed my worldview from self-destruction to self-hatred to thinking I might just be an OK guy after all. That's progress.
I think there were other resolutions I made one month ago but I can't remember them. So they're over and done, whatever they were. File them away with the "just fuck it" school of rationalization.
And then there are the cosmic reminders that all this resolution stuff is overrated.
"How's your day?" I greeted a friend the other day.
"Living the dream," he responded sarcastically.
"Me too," I said, with an equal air of somehow being put upon. It had been one of those days.
"No, man. You actually are," he replied with a laugh. "For real."
That got me. It's true. My life is awesome. But on days when the research is slow, the teams are inconsistent, and I just don't like the way I look naked in the mirror, there's this momentary forgetfulness. Thank you for the reminder, God.
All in all, I give myself passing marks for my resolutions. At the end of a day, a resolution is just one way of making yourself happier. Sometimes I just need a little reminding that happiness is a choice, not a list.