In Japan, the end of the year is celebrated with a chain of bonenkai, or “forgetting the year parties”; institutionalized forgetting, replete with alcohol: a long-favored technology of forgetting. Rather than publicly rehash my extravagant and largely unrealized resolutions of last year (they are in the archives), I am going to go against one of the functions of this web-page, and forget them. What is it that I hope to accomplish in the next year? Here is my resolution:
I want to accomplish.
When I first started teaching at the university level, my syllabi were sometimes 20 pages long. I had learned from teaching middle school that there was never such thing as over-preparation for a class or a course. Each year my syllabi get shorter, and so I’m doing the same with my resolution. I want this to be a banner year. I want it to be a special one in my personal history. I want to try new things, learn new stuff, finish new projects, and break old habits.
Yes, it comes with a corollary: I want to waste less time. Where will that time come from: surfing media. No more unscheduled TV-viewing, severely limited blog-surfing, less eating (out or otherwise), less wasted time. I don’t want, necessarily, to do “more,” I just want my time use to be more efficient and purposeful. Every moment of the day, I will not just be doing, I will be accomplishing.
What role does the blog play in this? As always, it is here to keep me honest. I always tell my students that they should have in mind an audience when they write in blogs or anywhere else. Being the professor, of course I do not follow this advice. I don’t watch my logs any more, so I only have two indicators that there even is an audience beyond my (later) self. First, I have the comments on the left, which I cherish. I know that sounds silly, but I really do like to hear from people and I am intrigued by which entries draw out comments. But I am also aware of a much larger silent audience out there. I know of them when I meet someone for the first time, or sometimes someone I already know, and they say “I read your blog.” It remains shocking to me, in some ways, because it means they know a lot more about me than I know about them. On the other hand, I guess that is one of the reasons I keep writing on this page.
Over Christmas I found out another family member is a regular reader (hi, Kevin!). He thought my posts were often “relevant.” This is, of course, a high compliment. On the other hand, it is certainly not by design. Unlike blogs that treat a particular topic area, this is really a collection of random notes and questions, and bits of things I’ve found interesting. Frankly, making it a list of my “accomplishments” seems pretty egotistical. A slight change in perspective, however, might make it more valuable to the reader. What I hope to accomplish is a better understanding of myself and my world. To whatever degree my small readership is able to learn from this, to make better decisions in their own lives, to connect to new ideas and ways of thinking or believing, to whatever degree this is possible, this page will be a success.