My year ends like this: it's 1 am and I'm reading a Think Progress article showing how in 2004 Bush slammed Kerry for wanting to increase the size of the Army to fight in Iraq. Bush claimed such a move would make America "less safe."
Today Bush announced his intentions to increase the size of the Army to fight in Iraq. Somewhere a big dog barked.
I've been searching for a word to sum up 2006, and the incalculable damage it has done not only to our military, our international image, but our very psyche. I've settled on "abject." If, years from now, someone wants to know what 2006 was like, I will simply say "abject" and settle into a thousand yard stare.
You know what I'm talking about. From Iraq's civil war to North Korea's successful nuclear test, Bush has orchestrated a dirge of incredible incapacity. Worst of all is the droning of spin and consequences from the cabal, its tentacles ensnare the country. I can feel the lifeforce being constricted out of me. The more I struggle with it, the more I'm bombarded with doublespeak and truths that were formerly lies which started as truths. We're not losing in Iraq, we're just not winning. It was right to go to Iraq, even if the consequences were widely predicted and are now upon us. We're fighting the terrorist abroad so they wont fight us here. On and on it goes....
After a year like 2006 we need a new way forward. We wont get a power-commission to study how the rest of us are supposed to deal with the growing fury of bad decisions, corruption, religious fanaticism, and global warming. So here's my advice, which will also quickly serve me in-case I am asked to give the commencement speech at a local college.
1. Turn off the television. TV, to me, has become a sort of fat-laden junk food for the brain. I usually feel worse after watching TV. Television presents a fabricated picture of reality that is not only impossible to live up to but foolish to emulate. It does nothing but increase the level of fakery, and thus angst, in your life. In 2007 detox off the tube.
2. Consume less news. The news is just too depressing. It's hard to have a healthy long view when young men and women are dying in Iraq for Bush's pride. Bush is having no trouble sleeping, why should you? You'll find out about breaking news, really important changes, but Iraq, and it's consequences, meanwhile Bush has two whole years left. I'm not saying you should completely disengage, but take it in proper doses or it'll make you very bitter (how can it not?). At the very least, cut out servings of pundits like O'Reilly, akin to erasing soda from your diet. People like him are a sticky, mysterious substance that rot your teeth.
3. Enjoy your friends and/or family. Enjoy the people around you. Someone, anyone. Love the one you're with. Give a little bit. Believe me, one moment with a son, or daughter, or loved one, is worth a hundred hours in a book, and a million on TV. It's real, and your self knows the difference.
4. Exercise / play a sport / spend a lot of time outside. God really is in the details. Go camping, take a road trip, but what ever you do just enjoy it. Don't worry about anything other than just getting out and opening your senses to something natural. Be active. The more you do the more you'll get done, really. And the more you get done the more proactive you'll feel. And that's what we need to do for 2007: enjoying what we have control over, and limiting our stress over Bush's decisions.
5. Take a class. Try it. Take a cooking class. Take an economics class. Don't even take it for the grade. If you can't take the class, check out its reading list and buy the books, used, on amazon.com. I was struck by Warren Buffet's advice to young adults: invest in yourself. You are, to be completely cliche, a tremendous accomplishment. A human being is an incredible machine capable of unending love, creativity, and contributions. Think about that. If we spent as much time investing in people as we do in, say, smart bombs, we'd really be on to something. But this one's on you--make it a priority to invest in yourself.
6. Set a major goal for 2007. Let's try this--set a major goal to be completed by the end of next year. My goal is to be published, be it a magazine, newspaper, or story. That's it, that's my goal. It's worth the effort and it'll keep me focused.
7. Eat less fast food. Television and fast food are 1% gratification and 99% hype. Plus, they tend to just gunk everything up. Learn to cook a few meals really well--it's very rewarding.
8. Buy fluorescent bulbs and plant some trees. That's pretty easy, and you'll know you're doing your part to be carbon neutral--one less thing you have to worry about. You're only one person, how much good can you do? Remember, we're thinking small in 2007, we're thinking individual, we're getting focused. You can't fight everything--but you can do your part and be unashamed.
9. Create something. Most of you probably have blogs of your own--they're wonderful outlets. Keep going. If you don't have one, start one. Or, go take photographs. Plant a garden. I don't know! But anything is better than nothing. That's a human drive--to create and to take pride in the creation. Maybe that is how we are like God. Most of us have dead-end, ultimately meaningless jobs. Combine that with the stuff coming out of Washington and reality can really bite. So, create your own little life of proactive construction. Again, give a little bit.
10. Read lots of Thought Alarm! I'm here to help! Let's do this thing.
If you found this helpful, or think I missed anything, please leave a comment. Please feel free to pass it along, digg it, link it, what ever it is you do. Have a great 2007!