Sunday, January 02, 2011

What I Want - Today's Column in the News Paper

I always spend the last week of the year thinking about the things I want to do the coming year. I feel kind of like I did when I was in kindergarten and got a new notebook and a fat cedar pencil. It’s a fresh start, where the possibilities are endless and the sky’s the limit.

I’m writing this column the week between Christmas and New Year’s — the old year’s winding down and soon to be a collection of journal entries and photographs on your computer desktop.

In the past, all my New Year’s resolutions revolved around things I wanted to accomplish like losing weight, selling more books, writing more songs, becoming debt free. (We actually did this in 2010, but we didn’t “become” debt free, we had to work our rear-ends off and live on less than we earned.)

But my resolutions were, for the most part, a to-do list.

When I started talking with my lovely spouse Jilda about some of the possibilities, she asked me a question I didn’t expect. She said, “What do you want?”

I know this seems like a fairly simple and straightforward question, but the longer I thought about it, the more I realized it’s a fairly deep question. Figuring out what I REALLY want would involve some soul searching.

For most of my life, “what I wanted” seemed almost immaterial. I had a demanding job, I had family responsibilities, and other things that laid claim on my time.

Oh sure, I daydreamed through the years, but when it came right down to it, I didn’t have a lot of time to sit around thinking about what I wanted out of life.

This year is different. I’ve been “retired” for over nine months, and although I don’t ever seem to slow down, my time is more my own now than at any other time in my life.

Her question hung in the air like the Goodyear Blimp with these words written on the side — “OK Bubba, the ball’s in your court, what do you WANT from life?”

I put my thinking cap on and headed off down to the barn, climbed the stairs, dangled my feet out of the hay-loft, and sat quietly for a while. Life always seems a little clearer from that vantage point at the barn. The only things that can distract me down there are the sound of old ploughs rusting, and the wind blowing through the hickory, oak, and pine. Well there are birds, but they’re more of a muse than a distraction.

I made a short mental list of the things I really enjoy. I’m not talking about things I can do to make money, but things I REALLY enjoy doing.

When I removed all the boundaries, and pre-conditions, it was exhilarating. I felt almost as if I were flying.

The things I really enjoy doing are:


•Playing music and writing songs


•Having dinner with friends

•Interviewing interesting people

•And fly fishing

This list is not all inclusive, but I felt it was a good start.

Saying what I want is one thing, but how do I go from saying to doing. Well, that part of the plan is a little sketchy. I do know this – when I was a little league hind-catcher I used to harass batters from behind the plate. I’d tell the pitcher – he can’t hit what he can’t see!

This little life lesson could be amended to say, “you can’t do what you want, if you don’t know what you want.” It doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “he can’t hit what he can’t see,” but it holds true, or at least it does to me.

I now have what I want written on a sticky note and stuck to the wall above my computer. Now that I can “see the ball,” I intend to knock a home run this year.

Happy New Year.


  1. If I ever reflected on my life and my future around New Years, it was too long ago to remember. I enjoyed the photo. The moss looks like it could be in Oregon, only here, the rock that the moss was on would almost surely be igneous rather than sedimentary, which yours probably is.

  2. Bridging the gap between wants/desires and tangible goals is always difficult for me!! But I like your philosophy!! It's a start and very do-able too!!!

    GOOD LUCK with your goals - may you continue to enjoy what you love doing!!!

    Thanks for sharing! take care

  3. Yes it's sedimentary. The only volcanic activity that's happened around here is when the neighbors, who've been married about 60 years get into a tussle:)
    We have a lot of limestone in Alabama I think that's probably what this rock is.
    I call it meditation rock. It's down behind our barn and overlooks a small creek.
    On warm days I go down there to sit and watch the world go by.

  4. Entering into retirement brings new 'balls' to aim for. We are 6 months into retirement and I am starting to see now that all the dust has settled from moving that there needs to be some kind of goal....structure to the day.
    Spend more time doing what you like and enjoy life.

  5. A man on a mission! Sounds like you have a map in your head. Now just have to follow the road and do it.

  6. “you can’t do what you want, if you don’t know what you want.” I've been screaming this at the mirror for a year now :) This year I figure that out!
    “you can’t do what you want, if you don’t know what you want.”


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