“What If?” Artwork and essay by Janet Riehl (copyright 2013)
“I know I’m lazy. But I made myself a New Years resolution that I would write myself something really special. Which means I have ’til December, right?”
We’re sitting on the couch in my father’s parlor with snow dripping from the evergreen trees outside the windows. I roll up my sleeves as I stare at the computer screen.
“Oh-oh.” my friend remarks, “once she rolls up her sleeves I know she’s serious now. That’s the whole thing, right there!”
It started a whole lot earlier this morning when the brainstorming flurry began. If there were a return department for New Year’s Resolutions, it would be over-flowing. We wondered if there was a way to shorten the line at the return window. We playfully asked: “What if…instead of…”
1) …resolving to do more, we resolved to do less?
2) …making resolutions at the beginning of the year that we are likely to break, we waited until the end of the year to gather up our regrets in one basket?
3)…or, waited until the end of the year to look back and see what we accomplished—planned or not.
4) …neatly plotting S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely), we compiled a list of wishes and prayers for the new year?
5) …or…keep it simple and choose one watchword for the year. In 2012 I chose “constancy” and that touchstone kept me on course.
6) …we ditched O.P.E. (other people’s expectations) and defined success as sitting listening to the rain rather than writing the next New York Times best seller?
7) …getting our knickers in a twist over a deadline, we waited until the last minute to provide the urgency and adrenaline we need to break the tape at the finish line?
8) …sharpening 12 pencils and waiting for inspiration to strike, we etch essays in the sand as the tide rolls in?
9) …we trusted our hearts to turn our faulty memories into the stories that need telling now?
10) …even if the world ends (again) next December we’ll sigh with satisfaction as we set along with the sun?
11) …our pens had their way with us?
12) …we turned 2013 into a meditation on Wallace Steven’s poem “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
13) …the 13th stanza said all there was to know?
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Learn more about Janet Riehl’s work at Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century (www.riehlife.com) where her mission is to create connections through the arts and across cultures.