Friday, January 2, 2015

Carryovers: Ten Things from 2014 to Build on for 2015

Yeah, I know, this list is sssooooo 2014. But it's a top 10 list, a retrospective, so that's cool, right? What I'm thinking about here are the things I enjoyed the most in 2014, and how they can help look forward to 2015. It's not definitive, but it's fun to remember sometimes. So in no particular order:

1. Music - When I look at the music I listened to in 2014, I am looking at what is different than other years. An artist that came onto the radar screen, or back on, who wasn't there as much in years past. There are two that standout: D'Angelo and Stevie Wonder. This has been a year where I have been in the habit of putting music on and just leaving it on, bollocks to the TV. D'Angelo's "Voodoo" and newly released "Black Messiah," I can just put on and let roll. And Stevie. Well shit. I don't even know where to begin. "Songs in the Key of Life" is like an emotional autobiography that can just float me around the house. And "The Definitive Collection" is a greatest hits where you know every song, you can nod your head doing dishes at the kitchen sink, or slow it down and just, well, wonder. I know, sorry :)

2. Bocce - I think I have been threatening to play bocce on a regular basis since I worked at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and we were kicking around the idea of playing at lunch. Moving to a new house at the end of the summer, one with an expansive outdoors, pushed the envelope, and younger daughter Ava has picked up on it. We prefer bocce through the woods. Other friends have picked it up as well, and it is a great way to walk around outside, catch up, drink beer, and just imbibe life while pretending to work on your eye-hand coordination.

3. Stand-Up Paddleboarding - I had been digging the occasional SUP adventure in previous years. And older daughter Anna has keyed in on the same thing. 2014 was the year I pulled the trigger and bought a used board and paddle from a friend who is a front of the pack SUP'er always upgrading. Paddleboarding, as much as, or maybe more than other things this past year has created a number of adventures, both with the girls, who have both picked it up, or with friends--from a 9-mile Father's Day paddle, to around the cove shenanigans, to epic and windy Deepwater Point and Trippe Creek throwdowns. I hope to make 2015 even more a year of the SUP.

4. Reading/books - In terms of number of books read, 2014 was a non-starter. But it was big for reading, especially in terms of re-reading. I've talked about Robert Hass on here, ad infinitum, but even reading a book like "Sun Under Wood," for the umpteenth time, I am struck by how books change with your life experience. Until you have gone through something, you don't get what the writer is really saying. In 2014, I discovered Kenneth Rexroth, who is huge for me. I also made it a point to cross a book off my to-read list that I have wanted to read for years, in Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian." I would like to hope that 2015 is the year I will finally cross "Ulysses" off that list, but right now I am caught up in non-fiction and in Borges.

5. Tribe/Carpe Diem/Stupidity/Adventures - In life, you have your family and you have your tribe. Sometimes those two overlap. Your tribe are those folks that get you, who are like you in some ways, who resonate. I've said it before, but I am fortunate to have a tribe who will read Blood Meridian, drink beer together, and sign on and show up for endurance adventures in stupidity. I have maintained that one of the reasons I want to keep in decent shape is because I don't want to miss out on any adventure that sounds fun. I love that I have fallen in with a bunch of 40-somethings, or soon to be 40-somethings, who refuse to grow up; who are moved to move, to get outside; and who want to carpe every single diem.

6. Trust the Universe and Louis Goldstein - I have definitely had some fog or haze over my eyes at various points in 2014. I've lost my way, been manic, and tried to claw my way back to where I thought I was supposed to go. I think it took me until the fall to step back and trust the Universe a bit more. But this isn't a passive trust I am talking about. When I graduated from Washington College, the longtime Maryland Comptroller Louis Goldstein was one of the speakers. His words of wisdom to the graduates was his mantra, his guiding philosophy in life: "If it's to be, it's up to me." I think that is an equal part in trusting the Universe. Trust, yes, don't feel like you need every answer or a road map ahead of time, but if you want something, and you want to make something happen, then it is up to you. If you are more religious, it's the same thing as saying "God helps those who help themselves." Trust the Universe, And get off your ass.

7. (Cold) Beverages - 2014 has definitely been the year of Dale's Pale Ale for me. I've enjoyed it before, but it became a staple like bread, eggs, bacon. My refrigerator is rarely without some waiting to be imbibed. 2014 was also the year of Irish Whiskey, whether Jameson's or Bushmills. And that has been a taste I didn't know I had acquired, generally preferring bourbon for my sipping.

8. Graphic Novels - This has been the year that pictures and art commingled themselves again with the words I am always searching and searching for. From Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker with Iron Fist, Hawkeye, or Captain America, or Neil Gaiman with The Sandman, or Frank Miller and Brian Michael Bendis with Daredevil, storytelling for me regained some of its vital visual nature, which informs how I think about writing and telling stories. Even Ava and Anna have taken to graphic novels, Ava more so.

9. Outings/Adventures - I have always been one for outings. If the girls and I are sitting around bored, and the weather is decent, we have always had the mindset to jump in the truck and go explore. That became even more important in 2014. The girls are interacting with the world differently month by month; the language they use to understand things; their quirky senses of humor; their curiosity; their experiences, both shared and unique. I hope our outings and adventures continue to be a big part of how they engage the world.

10. Slowing down - I've been a runner on and off since I was 15. Since 2005, I've been running marathons, trail races, ultra marathons, what have you. A funny thing happened this year. I started hiking, whether in group adventures like our Mason Dixon expeditions, or hiking in the Virginia mountains, or making time to wander the maritime museum where I used to work, or a couple recent strolls around Oxford. Not being in a hurry. Allowing the sites to sink in. Sharing stories, imbibing the history behind buildings, rocks, parks, benches, an unmapped stop in a tavern. There is something to catching your breath, only to have it taken away by something you didn't expect and wouldn't have caught if you were in too big of a hurry.

That's my top ten list from 2014, ten things that helped define some of the good parts of the year. And ten things I hope to build on as we begin 2015.


Joel said...

Cheers to #10!

Michael Valliant said...

Thanks, Joel! Cheers back at you!