Spots of Time

December 05, 2005

New Year's Resolution - Circa 2004/5

The belief that the activities of the first day of a new year can foretell what an individual will do for the remainder of the year proved true for me in 2004.

It began for me in Bangkok, on Khaosan Road. It was the first time I saw the chaotic backpacker streets filled with more Thai people than tourists. As New Year’s celebrations go, it was average, though the very act of celebrating the start of a new year in a foreign land made me giddy with anticipation.

After leaving Thailand I traveled on to Cambodia, The Philippines, India, Mongolia, China, and back to Thailand before returning to the US in September.

The year saw me eat hairy spiders, watch pigs transported by motorbike, become a (temporary) vegetarian, witness the suppression of news regarding the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, drink fermented mare’s milk, join in the celebration of a good friend’s marriage, and find myself once again living and working in San Francisco.

What the year 2004 did not see for me, however, was my name in print. Which is only important if you read or remember my column from December 31, 2003 – in which I shared my one New Year’s Resolution for 2004 – to become a published writer.

When I made my announcement I put no time constraints on the goal and only hoped that when it happened, I would be satisfied with the final product. This was as much to protect myself from failure as it was to ensure quality. So, when the ball dropped in New York City in 2005, I wasn’t too upset that I hadn’t (yet) achieved my goal. I just rolled it over to the next year.

Yesterday, I'm thrilled to say, my 2004/5 New Year’s resolution finally came true – and with just 27 days to spare until 2006! Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle published a travel story I wrote about Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Publication came with a potpourri of emotion: of joy, pride, excitement and more than a little relief. I’m not usually a goal-oriented woman – this is only the third New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever kept – yet reaching a goal I had verbally outlined and expressed and wanted so badly gave me a sense of satisfaction that felt really, really good.

In less than a month 2006 will emerge from its preparatory cocoon and throw itself upon us, full of possibilities. And while the year most likely won’t see me gallivanting around the globe, it will certainly be another year of adventure, knowledge and discovery.

I’m not sure yet what my New Year’s Resolution will be, though I know that I will have one. And, humbly, I encourage you all to choose one as well. With one caveat:

Don’t choose to quit smoking, or lose weight, or eat healthier. These are the most common resolutions and also the most commonly broken. Pick something big, something you’ve always dreamed about but weren’t quite sure if it was possible. Then tell someone - to make yourself more accountable. :)

Resolve to learn French, write down your memoirs, or cook an entire Indian meal from scratch.

Decide that 2006 will be the year you get promoted, run a marathon, or make peace with your mother.

Choose to read Finnegans Wake, Gravity’s Rainbow or In Search of Lost Time.

Learn to understand string theory, or how to swim, or the capital cities of every country in Africa.

Commit yourself to something – anything. See what happens. And, if it doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourself up about it. There is always next year.

A writing friend of mine once told me that being published doesn’t mean you are the best writer, or the luckiest, or the hardest working – but it is usually a combination of the three that takes you across the finish line.

But, don’t listen to me. Listen to the words of another writer, one whose work has already stood the test of time:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

May all your dreams come true - in 2006 or beyond.


p.s. The picture is mine too!