Terrible New Year, Terrible New Mantra…

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ― Joseph Campbell

Isn't Life Terrible?

I’m not one to make resolutions. I learned as a teenager that the new year resolution tradition is a trap. However, I was struck by this quote the other day and will be adopting it as my “New Year Mantra.” I can look back on 2012 and state unequivocally that it was a terrible year. Using a limited self-serving frame of reference to assess it, one could easily just give the year of 12 a resounding thumbs-down. However, I am instead seeing it for what it really was: a terrible year of lessons and change.

The word terrible means more than just “really bad.” Terrible also means serious, extreme, or awe-inspiring. The original Latin word terrere really means to fill with fear or cause to tremble. Yep, that pretty much sums up 2012 — a year of serious, extreme, and awe-inspiring learning.

I am hoping that 2013 is also a year of terrible. I will be looking for those extreme and awe-inspiring moments this year when maybe, perhaps, I will be able to let go of the life I had planned and be able to recognize the life is that is waiting for me — professionally while I grow and learn, and personally while I figure out how to redefine myself.

What about you? What are your plans for 2013? Have a wonderful new year!

P.S. I know he is controversial in the lit-crit crowd, but I actually really loved Campbell and found some of his theories helpful for my students when we studied Arthurian romance cycles. It made me just a tiny bit happier to find this quote from him the other day. Thank you, Professor Campbell, for the little bits of wisdom you have randomly injected into my life over the years. Are we living out a monomyth cycle? A continuous journey that brings us through birth, death, and rebirth?

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Sometimes you just need to stop and breathe…

I will be honest: I’m normally so busy (aren’t we all) that I tend to not take the time to stop, watch, listen, think, reflect. We all know that stress is bad for us — mentally and physiologically. I know it. Yet, I still need to be better about carving out a few moments to alleviate stress. Even when I’m at the gym, I have a hard time letting go (I hate my current swim goggles… it’s always something, right?). Grad school with a toddler alone probably shaved years off my life…

For the first time in a very long time, I actually took an afternoon late last week to visit SAM. Normally when I visit, it’s with a purpose or an agenda, usually a specific show (Picasso! Gauguin!) or some other motivator. Not this time. This time, to help get my mind off some recent stress, I walked in with absolutely no agenda except to turn off my phone and wander the galleries.

It was nice to be able to sit with some of my favorite “old friends” at SAM and know that I could spend as much time as I wanted (or at least until my parking expired). One of my favorite works is Bierstadt’s Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast (1870).

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