Happy New Year (and new decade) friends! Can you believe a whole year has past since the last time I filled your in-boxes with nonsense? I am glad we are all here again this year, and I hope you are reading this in comfort and with a few moments of peace – because we are all certainly entitled to that. I struggled getting this little love note going this year – struggled not to repeat myself, but repetition helps us remember the important things. With that in mind, sit back, relax and let me kick it for you Soap-Box style….
I went back and read all of the Season’s Greetings I could find (5 years worth) and my common theme seems to be motivation. Every year I try to motivate myself and my readers into some form of self improvement. This year I have been thinking about motivations, why do we “do what we do” instead of what we “want to do”?
What makes us get out of bed in the morning?
Why do we stress over those reports that the boss wants done ASAP?
Why don’t we go all “Tiger Woods” and find ourselves a few billion extra-marital lovers?
What stops us from going on a shooting spree?
Fear. Fear is an enormous motivator for me. I am afraid that if I don’t do well at work I will lose my job, if I am not a good person I will lose my wife or friends. I marvel at how the faint smokey taste of fear flavors my decisions. How much of your routine is planned with avoiding the consequences of bad decisions – the fear of “what if”? I don’t think I am alone in the fear, but has society always been this afraid or is the abundance of information making it worse?
During Xmas festivities with my wife’s relatives, I was talking with her aunt about an article I read about the lack of freedom children have in modern times. We don’t allow children to ride bikes alone or go to the corner store (if they even exist) because we are afraid that someone would take them. But child abductions have remained constant at around 110-115 since the 1950’s. Why are we suddenly so afraid to let children have unstructured freedom? My guess would be scary media reports, internet, reports from “experts”.
Are we raising a new generation to be afraid of everything? Is that a good thing or debilitating? As technology improves, we aren’t too far from never having to leave the house. It would be like that Surrogates movie except there won’t be robots, we will just have empty streets. When I think about my own life, the best moments happened when I control my fears… fear of rejection, fear of what people think, fear of losing – sometimes what I feared actually happened, but it wasn’t too bad and I am still here, better for having gone through it.
Now I am thinking of an “olde time” commercial… “Now you too can be large and in charge* with FEAR AWAY! Just take two shots of this brown liquid that smells exactly like whiskey and watch your fear vanish! You get the complete kit for a low $99.99! (* model prostitutes not included)”
In last year’s address I mentioned the global dependence on oil. I have expanded my thoughts to resources in general. America is a consumer and service based economy and the world is following our example. I see a short rope wrapped around our collective necks and we are getting ever so close to hanging ourselves. Let me see if I can break down my thoughts:
- America is out of the business of production – we don’t make shit anymore – we just buy it
- Those production jobs left this country and are helping to develop a middle class in other nations
- As we are seeing with India, once a middle class is established, those people no longer want to make shit either – they want to sit in air conditioned offices and do non-productive corporate work like their American counterparts
- Now there are a lot more people who want to buy useless shit, so another country – like China – is making useless shit cheaply and dangerously to meet the demand
- As China becomes more industrialized their demand for oil and coal rises, America and other develop nations need for oil does not decline – so there are more nations in demand for a dwindling resource – this will end well I am sure
- All of this cheap, hazardous stuff that nobody really needs eventually ends up in the Ocean, the Ocean becomes plastic
- As the Ocean becomes a toxic cesspool with broken toys and old Clorox bottles floating in the patina, the food chain becomes irrevocably broken
- As this is happened the world collectively realizes that clean fresh water supplies are dangerously in short supply (don’t worry America – we actually have a decent supply, you will just be paying major $$$ for bottled water)
- Now we will need plastic bottles to ship the water – you need oil to make plastic – and someone to make the plastic cheaply – and somewhere to put the used bottles – and we are back to the beginning
America and the world collectively needs to get their shit together when it comes to renewable resources, waste management, CO2 in the atmosphere, and the careers that are considered valuable. The governments are not going to anything until we have reached the point of no return, so it’s up to us. Vote with these topics in mind and don’t get side-tracked by the bullshit issues. Encourage renewable resources in your town and don’t be one of those “not in my back yard” assholes. Make sure the stuff you use doesn’t go to waste (As I type that, I have 4 full trash bags of food I tossed from Christmas Eve festivities – so who needs to get off of their high horse?).
I am going to repeat what I have said every year since I started doing these messages: Make next year better for yourself any way you can. Make yourself better any way you can. Last year I said I wanted to focus on guitar lessons – and I did. I got a little bit better and learned to play one of my favorite songs of all time. As an added bonus, I made a new friend and neighbor (HiGTT!). Good things happen when you try to improve yourself and get out of your little box.
This year my plan is to take the GMATs and buckle down on a master’s degree. I don’t have the highest opinion of the educational system at the moment (hmmm…. got a good rant on that coming up), but I want to give it the chance to redeem itself. Perhaps redemption should be a theme in 2010 as well. New decade, bury old grudges and useless thoughts. Can you think of something or someone you have totally washed your hands of – is there a second chance in its/their future? Should there be?
2010 could potentially be the start of my immediate family’s baby boom as my sister will have her first child. Seeing the restraint she has been practicing the last 5 months, ensuring every advantage she can for her child has been inspiring. I am excited and proud of big my sister and brother-in-law, and look forward to the changes their baby brings to their life and my own.
We have a new decade to define ladies and gentlemen. Let’s try to do better than the last ten years of vapid reality-tv celebrities, economic meltdowns, upskirt shots, war, useless people cheating on their wives, lying media, and the biggest moron ever elected to office.
The bar is pretty low to make an improvement people – but we still have to give an honest effort.
The thank you section of this address has as become a logistical nightmare. Simply put: Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I usually start this off by thanking my parents, and for an outsider reading this – it is simple and perfectly disconnected. I thought I would try something different this year: My father learned to use his cell phone this year. That might not be a big deal to normal people, but for a man that doesn’t speak, this is a fascinating paradox. The first time he called me, I was in the middle of a tele-conference and actually dropped off because I thought something is wrong. He just wanted to know if I wanted any meat from the butcher shop. The man called me to see if I wanted something – old school doesn’t do it justice. My mother is no slouch by any means – she calls me every day to see if I need or want something. It is mind-boggling to me to see how supportive my parents are in their own stoic and silent way: nothing flashy, just always there in the background. So in all seriousness – Thank You Mom and Dad.
Not trying to ignore my wife by putting her in second (the story about my dad was just a better transitional sentence). Allison is the person who is saddled with anal retentive insanity 24/7. She not only handles it with grace (most of the time) but she gets me out of crazy place. She is an endless source of entertainment and laughs and I am very glad she is my wife and for the life we are building together. YAM!
I struggled with doing mass thank yous because I don’t want to take it away from people who deserve thanks. But I really don’t want to turn this into the “10 minute thank you speech at the Oscars”. Hopefully, I said thank you in person, and if I didn’t, you have my full permission to call me a ungrateful asshole the next time we talk. With that out of the way, I genuinely want to thank the people in my life for being there:
Thank you for answering my phone calls and listening to my insanity for a few minutes
Thank you keeping me company on long drives and dealing with crappy blue tooth speakers
Thank you for giving me advice that I over-analyze to the point of nausea
Thank you for our daily IM conversations that make the work day much better
Thank you for coming over and helping me move stuff around my house and off the deck
Thank you for suggesting new books, movies, and music
Thank you India (Just making sure you are paying attention)
Thank you for the recipes, the cooking gear, and finding new ways for me to destroy my kitchen
Thank you for helping to find back-splash tile (and eventually doing the tile work) – Hi “Woody!” 😉
Thank you for reading my blog because it really makes me happy that people do
Thank you all for allowing me to live a satisfying and meaningful life – because without you, it wouldn’t be.
In 2010, be the master of your own destiny.
Previous Holiday Greetings:
2008 – Click Here
2007 – Click Here
2006 – Click Here
2005 – Click Here
2004 – Click Here
(Sorry before 2004, the Greetings were email based and I lost them all – so if you have them… send ’em my way and I will republish)