Every December I make a list of things that I am going to do during the upcoming year. It’s noble, of course, to be so ambitious, to stand at the precipice of a new year and dare to claim that you will accomplish anything. Something beckons us to dream. So we make resolutions. We say them aloud.
I made such a list almost a year ago. I promised myself I would learn some new things and develop some good habits. On the surface, they seemed like solid goals. That was, of course, before I knew 2011 was going to be so bat-droppings crazy. Hindsight has caused me to look back on it. And from here, my list is pretty silly.
Here’s the deal. I’m asking for a do-over. I’m asking for permission to write my 2011 resolutions over again. Don’t get caught up in the physics of it all. This isn’t too outrageous. Solid writing is all about rewriting. So let’s just all pretend I was granted the luxury of bending time. Let’s say I could write a letter to “2010 Eric”. If I could, I think I would get my resolutions right this time around.
These are the things I am going to do last year. Here are my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. Round two.
Make a movie.
Find a good friend. Fly around the world. Tell the stories of the most faithful people you have ever met. Interview people who have given up everything in the name of Jesus. I tell you this in advance, 2010 Eric, since you tend to think you are a pretty solid guy. But you won’t deserve to be in their presence. Work hard. Put in a lot of hours and tell their stories well. This will be one of the most meaningful projects you’ve ever worked on in your life. But don’t get carried away. You’ll enter the film into several film festivals. And you’ll get rejection letters from Sundance, Telluride and Toronto. But their lack of approval won’t matter when you talk to a 17 year-old kid who, having just watched the film, is ready (and capable) to change the world.
Be good to your friends.
Halfway through the year, a tornado will hit your house. Everyone will be okay but you will lose everything. As difficult as the fallout will be, the adjustment to the new normal will be made much easier by the people around you. Help will come from every direction. Old friends from high school. Co-workers. Family. On a rainy Monday morning, you’ll find yourself standing homeless, in a pile of rubble, and you will realize how rich you are. These are good people, your friends. The kind of folks that will take your family in at a moment’s notice and never ask when you are going to move out. They’ll drive from places like Oklahoma City and Cincinnati and fly in from Los Angeles to help you scrub mud off of a semi-salvageable coffee table. They’ll mail you a Kindle when they hear your personal library was soaked and scattered across the neighborhood. Their grandparents’ friends, who live in Illinois or Indiana (you won’t remember) will send you money orders. They’ll make sure you have more diapers than you know what to do with. People will compliment you on your resilience and faith. Say thanks but don’t fool yourself. Your friends will be the real heroes. Make sure you let them know how much you love them. Tell them this often. And every time you go out for drinks, make sure you are buying.
Be good to your wife.
Okay, okay… you’ve known you married a good woman for a while now but be prepared to be blown away. (Excuse the bad pun, which will make sense later.) In January, she’ll run a 5k while 6-months pregnant. In April, the doctors will tell her that she should expect labor to last anywhere between 8-12 hours. She’ll have the baby out in four hours tops. One side note concerning the whole delivery thing… it’s crazy. Just keep spooning ice chips into her mouth and shut up. In May, she’ll make every right decision – instantly – and will save your four-week old baby from a tornado. All summer long, when you are too tired to get up in the middle of the night to tend to the life form you helped create, she will patiently rock a crying baby back to sleep. I tell you all of this now because she will spend the last month of her pregnancy wondering whether or not she is capable of being a good mom. You will often kiss her on the forehead, smile and say, “you’re going to be great.” Well-played, Husband of the Year! But you are full of crap. Because when you say this, you will be wrong. “Great” won’t even begin to cover it.
Make your daughter laugh.
Sometime around September, make sure you are spending a lot of time playing with your daughter. She will be four or five months old at this point. She won’t crawl or do too many useful things. Babies make terrible roommates. They don’t pick up after themselves and you have to wipe their butts. She will recognize you when you walk into a room and, surprisingly, that’s a big deal. Anyway, look her in the eyes and make a bunch of silly noises. Repeat this activity often. At some point, almost magically, she will giggle at you. Real, authentic, toothless-smile, laughter. I don’t care how many people you have made laugh before. When you make Alice laugh for the first time, you will have arrived.
Go to a ballgame with your old man.
On Saturday, October 23rd, OU will lose to Texas Tech, thus snapping a 39-game home winning streak. Make sure you are at the game. Nothing about the evening will be all that fun. There will be a freak thunderstorm just before kickoff. The kind of Oklahoma storm that sends rain in sideways and turns old men into amateur meteorologists. This storm will cause a two-hour weather delay, which will force you to seek shelter under the stadium with 85,000 other rain poncho-wearing fans. These conditions mean that the game won’t even start until close to 9pm. It’ll get out of hand in the second quarter but you’re committed and will stick around until the very end. All that to say, it’ll be close to 3am by the time you get home. You will endure all this misery just to watch the undefeated Sooners lose to a four-touchdown underdog. But here’s the catch. You’ll get to spend an unforgettable evening with your dad. Trust me. Go to this game. The conversations – about things important and not so important – with a man you are slowly turning into will be worth enduring the bad storm and terrible loss.
Give up on punctuality.
You have a baby now. You won’t be on time anywhere. People will understand. Get used to it.
Don’t be afraid to get things wrong.
You aren’t perfect. It’s not the end of the world. You won’t always get everything right. Things won’t always work out like you thought they would. Or the way you sketched them out in some moleskine journal. You’ll learn that often your plans don’t measure up to what God has in store anyway. It’s for the best. And besides, if all else fails, you can always rewrite it.