Family Series, part 1: The Den

Our den was a beehive. Us coming in and rushing out. The blue glow from the nightly news. The red embers in the fireplace. Orange splashed here and there to offset the stark Danish furnishing. A bronze JFK. An iron eagle. A plaster Madonna in the corner. Us, a crew I thought typical back then. Six kids in stages of colorful rebellion.

Dance night. Once that new stereo got hooked up, 60’s rock entered the den. The front of the fireplace transformed into our stage. The reading dancinglamp twisted to shine upwards on our lip-synching. Fire pokers and longish twigs meant for kindling converted into microphones. Bursts of energy of movement of sound. Us riding the crest of pandemonium. Dogs too, jumping along like they couldn’t get enough of what we felt.

Images pop into my head even now, forty plus years afterwards. We snaked through early life with no one looking too far ahead. Nothing rocked us out of the moment. We were cemented into that time and place. Body and soul. We were a force.

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The Power of Inspiration

ChineseNewYear-DecorationEvery January 1st “more than fifty per cent of Americans made some sort of resolution. After six months, only forty per cent had stuck with it” (Konnikova). I am within that 50%, listing resolutions that range from eating better to exercising more. There is something about the crest of a new year that propels us to believe, despite all the contrary evidence, this time change will be easy. Good will does its best to buoy us but often it is the very device that undermines us.

“Optimism, then, isn’t always constructive. If we’re too positive, we condemn ourselves to fail. Many backsliders relapse because they have overestimated their own abilities, underestimated the time and effort involved in staying the course, or have an exaggerated view of the effect that the change would have on their lives” (Konnikova).

Each new year or new month or new week we strive to follow a new regime, one that could, we fancy, lead us to an improved self. But this week, on the crest of the Chinese New Year, I suggest a shift away from this type of thinking. Instead, I dare say Fuck Off to Resolutions and Bring It On to Inspirations.

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