New Year’s Resolutions to post historical(ly)

It is the beginning of a new year, which, along with the requisite top 10 lists from the year (and decade) that has passed, brings talk of the oft-dreaded New Year’s resolutions. I’m all for the idea of renewal and re-focusing, so I can support this tradition to some extent. Among my personal goals for 2010: truly connect with my friends more often. get married with as little stress as possible. figure out what my life’s path is.

I know, all very simple and SMART. More generally, I will be audacious (if Obama can do it, why can’t I?), authentic and original. (Perhaps at a later date I will write about whether it is better to say and do the unexpected and risk offending people or better to attend the dinner party you have to attend and just make nice small talk. My goal for 2010 is more of the former and less of the latter.)

For now, though, I have started a blog, with grand expectations that it will be the outlet I’m seeking for the beginnings and ends of thoughts that pop into my end on a relatively frequent basis. And because we live in a world where the personal is interpersonal news, I am sharing what I hope to achieve in an effort to be transparent. I am counting on you, dear readers, to help “keep me honest,” as they say!

My goals for the blog are as follows:

  1. To commit to writing on a regular schedule – exercising my self-discipline!
  2. To hone a style of writing that is clear, engaging, and accessible, without being overly simplistic. Essentially, to practice writing about intangible things in a way that makes sense while avoiding the pitfalls of jargon, which tend to exclude readers outside of a specific discipline or background.
  3. To create a community in which to explore ideas and concepts that are not directly related to our everyday experiences, but that shape and impact the culture(s) we live in. Also, as part of this, to create a space to step back and consider the way we live and think and share these ideas with others.
  4. To test out some of the concepts  related to history, identities, and communities and the intersections among them that I’m considering writing about in more depth, either in school or otherwise.

The best part of the blog is that here the “what” mirrors the “how” – that is, in writing about communities, I will hopefully be creating one that will shape my ideas – and so on and so forth. This is all part of an overriding goal of having my actions reflect my thoughts.

What are your three motivating theme words of the year? What are your audacious dreams? And what topics would you like to see me post historical(ly) about?

2 Responses to New Year’s Resolutions to post historical(ly)

  1. Katie says:

    You want your actions to reflect your thoughts. I want my actions to reflect my values. Does it matter that we chose different words, or are we really speaking the same language?

    I have lots of motivating themes, connecting is one of them. Perhaps we need a blog on what communication really is and how technology plays into this. For example, I tried to write letters to some of my close friends telling them what I admired/respected/loved about them (because do we really ever say it?) and I was going to do this on the computer because usually words flow freely when I am typing. Nothing happened. I decided to go backwards a bit and write letters BY HAND and MAIL them…slowly.

    As to the life’s path thing; once you figure it out (if you really could) it’s no longer as fun. I don’t need to know the path or where it is taking me, I just need to walk on it until I come to a fork and then take another step.

    My audacious dreams are simple and very difficult for me to achieve. I’d like a life free of expectations (societal, peer, and self pressure), and full of love and contentment (the result of freedom, and true connections with others). Of course it would be nice to ‘be successful’ in art/work, and have some things but I want to “live the life I love” and be able to die with a smile on my face.

  2. Kathryn Exon says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Katie.

    Your story about writing out letters by hand reminded me of something I read recently about technology and speed. Henry David Thoreau asked in Walden what the point was “to talk fast and not to talk sensibly? … Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at.”

    He was so very wise.

    (This is a fantastic article, and not just because it talks about maps, and Thoreau, and technology!)

    Speed over content, then. I suspect the Internet and other communication tools make it easier and faster to communicate with people, but certainly won’t change what we have to say (or indeed, give us something to say if we do not have anything I mind already). However, I so think the Internet and its associated email servers, blogs, comment boxes, etc. are more casual drafts of ideas and make the writer feel less pressured. Writing it all down can seem too final. In this case, perhaps, the medium affects the content, or the writer’s attitude toward the content.

    On your other point about happiness: in conversation last night, the topic of day-to-day happiness vs. achieving one’s long term audacious goals came up. I wondered if there would come a point at which we ‘settle’ for the day-to-day happiness alone and give up the work and sacrifices to day-to-day happiness required to achieve one’s long-term audacious goals (being the Prime Minister, spending 10 000 hours doing something in order to master it, etc.). Now I think we are young and idealistic enough to think we can have both.

    One of my favourite bloggers, Penelope Trunk, recently asked about the difference between a happy life and an interesting life, claiming that the quest for happiness was “vacuous.” For me, it isn’t either/or, but parallel. Happy, for me, IS being interesting and interested. Perhaps we need to divorce our idea of ‘successful’ in extrinsic terms (money, status, power) sooner rather than later in order to be intrinsically happier sooner and for longer!

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