It’s the beginning of the year, which means it’s time for some resolutions. I don’t have that much willpower, so I’m going to stick to three:
1. The last couple of months have been pretty hectic, and in the process, I’ve pretty much treated my body like I lease it and I’m going to get another one when the contract’s up in two years. For obvious reasons, I’d like to keep this body longer than that. So: earlier bedtimes, regular walking and workouts, vegetables. I’m not going back to being a varsity athlete, but I can at least stop being a slob.
2. I had pretty good success over the summer with writing on a daily basis. I finished a rough draft of a novel and made some significant revisions in the fall, only to get derailed in December. January is a fresh start and a fresh calendar: back to writing every day.
3. I’ve always been interested in the experiences of military men and women (in part, I think, because I’d make a really terrible soldier/sailor/airman/marine/coastie) and, in this age of blogging, I’ve been lucky to read some excellent milbloggers. One, the fantastically profane Mud Puppy, recently posted about paying what you owe.
You owe it to the guys that didn’t come back, you owe it to them to live well.
Mud Puppy wrote about feeling the obligation of living the lives of those who didn’t come back–335,000+ years that won’t be lived, because the men and women who should have been living them died in the collective conflicts of our “War on Terror.” He asked what it means to live well–and whether he’s meeting that standard.
Both questions are hard to ask, and harder to answer. While I’m not a veteran, and so, not in quite the same position as Mud Puppy, I am where I am (in grad school, out of debt, etc) because others have sacrificed for me. My parents, my friends in writing and fencing, the McCoys–they may not have laid down their lives, but they gave up time and sweat and money to make me the person I am, where I am. I owe them a life lived well.
I’m working on my definition of a life lived well. Resolutions 1 and 2 are pointing in the right direction, I think. If I were the kind to sum things up in a sentence, I’d say that living well means caring for as many of the people who cross your path as you can; cherishing the body you’ve got; and chasing your art as far as your legs take you.
As a definition, it’ll work for now.