03 December 2010

December 1 - One Word

In order to initiate Hartley into the developmental pleasures of anticipation, and also to ensure that these crucial days leading up to Christmas and an overseas visit from my parents are not misspent, we bought an Advent calendar. I know as little about Advent now as I did when my parents made the mistake of first introducing me to the daily expectation of chocolate thirty years ago, but it forms an essential holly bow of my Christmas-decked memories, and so it shall for our son.

Earlier today, a friend of mine who is living her dream of world travel, coupled with location independent (read: online freelance) work, alerted me to this interesting 'manifest your dreams'-type exercise, which encourages you to come up with single words/ideas that will help you guide your way to nirvana or unparalleled wealth or something. Actually, I think it's more of a kōan for you to contemplate while you tally up your life thus far and visualise the ways in which you plan to better it in 2011. No pressure there.

2010 can be metaphorically summed up by the way my life looks and functions at present, which is: go and take a peek inside your fridge. No that isn't a metaphor, I'm asking you to look inside your fridge. Do it now; I'll wait here. Okay, so did you notice the hair dryer in and amongst the empty milk bottles and tendril-y potatoes? How did that even get there? More importantly, why are you still thinking about it? Because you should really go and investigate that dull thud and splash followed by MUMMAYYY?! rather immediately. Oop, don't step there! You meant to clean that up yesterday, ha ha, oh and those are your last pair of socks. Were; were your last pair of socks.

Okay, I tricked you - that was a metaphor. And I really do plan to make time to do this #Reverb10 thing, so that I can at least say I am taking a consistent approach to life, and not the pasty consistency of masticated toast abandoned beneath a kitchen table. You would think that a daily prompt to write about oneself would be adequate, but not in my case. I need a marquee with a flashing arrow and travelling script and maybe some sort of embedded subliminal messaging to keep me on track. I need...


So here is what I'm prepared to do: for every day in December, I will open a new Advent calendar door with Hartley, and whatever that door reveals I shall use as a trigger to help me think of an idea that relates to the exercise. Here, I'll demonstrate.

The first exercise is this:

December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

According to the calendar, my first picture prompt of the month shall be (drum-roll, please)...a drum. So with that in mind, the word that I would use to describe 2010 is: Chaos.

But what does chaos have to do with a drum?, I hear some of you (not many of you) asking your computer screens. Now you're getting it! If it helps, you can picture me trying to locate my totem animal while Henry Rollins screams at me from the breakfast table and Sim Cain breaks another drumstick against the taut, pitted polyethylene of my brain. Or something.

This year I've been thrown off the beat by personal tragedy (quietly dealt with and stored away), in-the-round successions of cold, flu and infection, a surprise visit from my old friend Depression (followed by a threatening letter from his line-manager, Nervous Breakdown), extreme weight loss (thyroid-related), extreme weight gain (Doritos-related), a major move out of London and the pressures that accompany an impending career change. I am pretty sure that chaos is par for the course when you are living with someone whose age can still be tallied in months, but let's leave that aside for the minute, because lord knows I am not the only person on earth who is trying to raise a toddler and do other things too.

The word I would use to describe my vision for 2011, when paired with last year's word, should bring to mind the double-sided Kandinsky of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation – Control. (“Chaos, control; chaos, control: You like? You like?”) So not a clean representation of how I think a life should appear, but my own big, beautiful mess as it stands; a vivid abstraction guided slightly more by intention than circumstance. That's how I want 2011 to play out: with me on a kick-drum, keeping time for the bitter-sweet symphony of life that sold Verve tickets back in 1998. But with even fewer mixed-metaphors than I'm wont to use.

Oof. Did I really say I'd do this every day? I may need to think smaller, and catch up again tomorrow. I do wonder what I'll do with fruit cake though.

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