Creative Nonfiction

Happy New Year 2014!

Happy New Year!

Before I make a quick observation, let me scintillate you with some of my big “firsts” of 2014.

First Meal: breakfast burritos

First Music: Listened to Binaural by Pearl Jam while cooking said breakfast burritos. I can’t believe that album is 13 years old!

First Thing I Watched: An episode of Psych, specifically the one in season 4 called “Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark.”

Happy New Year via WikiCommons user Ross/
Happy New Year via WikiCommons user Ross/

There’s something about firsts that interest us. We admire pioneers because the first person to do something always gets recognition.

In our own lives, firsts are more memorable. January 1 is exciting because the calendar changes over. We can use that dividing line in time as a way to see some things in life, even mundane meals and songs, as something new again.

I’m starting something new as well. New class at Pitt, teaching at a new college, and launching a new website as I work on two new books.

But like any new thing that takes on wear and tear, each year inevitably loses its holiday shine, that festive sparkle, until the fresh calendar year just gets old.

As I chatted with my neighbor while walking my dog on New Year’s Eve, he reminded me that New Year’s is a time to evaluate how you did over the past 12 months and look ahead to what you hope to accomplish. Not exactly wisdom of Confucius I suppose, but he really does it. He sits down with his family and has that conversation.

“You never get done as much as you want,” he told me. “There’s never enough time, but you do the best you can do.”

For all the high-fallutin’, self-help, Type-A, git-r-done thoughts floating around every January, I’m focusing on my neighbor’s way of thinking. Reflect, evaluate, and move on. Do the best you can do. I feel like I only completed a small part of the goals I set for 2013, but how can you quantify lessons learned, sweat equity, and hidden effort that pays off down the line?

Do the best you can and try to make each day meaningful even if only in some small way. Don’t forget to enjoy some good entertainment and a delicious breakfast burrito here and there along the way. These are the types of pithy sayings people older and wiser than I have been telling me for years. I long thought they were too simplistic, that they should have greater nuggets of wisdom for us after so many years of thinking and living. But know what? I think they’re onto something.

By Clay Morgan

Clay Morgan is the author of Undead. Say hi on Twitter.