You know, aside from the religious intolerance, flights into sectarian violence, native peoples displacement, suppression of literary forms and various forms of pot-calling-the-kettle-blackness, those founding colonizers of our nation called the Puritans did a lot of cool stuff. They thought high-minded thoughts, they stressed plain speech (I am the opposite of a Puritan in this way), and they resisted their king and they even moved to the Netherlands for a while. I am a firm believer that anything which seems unclear or unfair would seem better if one were on a bicycle in the Netherlands. Perhaps I have a weakness for lowlands and Dutch women. I don't know. I've only visited the Netherlands briefly, where my wife and I went quite properly to a very traditional town,
where everyone wore quasi-religious garb and baked non-luxuriant food.
One thing they did, being allergic to novels in general and unfamiliar with the works of P.G. Wodehouse in particular, was to write and read their own diaries, instead of writing and reading sustaining lies told in story form. They believed, you see, that one could tell from a daily journal that one indeed was so virtuous as to be one of the predestined Elect, in a world in which people were apparently either "saved" people or orcs. I'm not the first literary thinker to say so, but I've always felt that orcs had rather a raw deal--children of a lesser god, predestined to hack and slash and eat salt pork and get vanquished in the end. Heaven may deliver all manners of penitent heroes, but give me a Heaven in which orcs find and practice compassion. Save a king? You've just returned destiny. Save a sinner? You've done something real.
Here on LiveJournal, we know that by diarying everthing we are willing for others to read, we find our own salvations (and, in a curious show of faith-by-works, by not posting anything we don't want read, we also find some inner peace, except that I notice that some post things they don't want read and then realize it only when people read what they posted. An audience is a wonderful and terrible thing sometimes).
We are quite different from the Puritans, most of us. I have a few LJ friends who could be said to be very strict religionists in a variety of religions, but none of them would quite be Puritans, although I can think right offhand of three of intense discipline in their own ways. The Puritans themselves, by the way, were quite different in many ways from the stereotypes. The term puritanical now is used only in its intimate context, but in point of fact, the Puritans were not so puritanical as the Victorian revivalists who followed them, and in point of fact the Puritans got the bad name over things the later religionists said and did. Some Puritans believed that personal ecstasy was necessary to conception, so that the Puritans were perhaps not so "puritanical" about certain of the daily things that concern us all but so often are voiced in terms so mundane as to be banal and hence are best addressed not at all in my particular journal.
The way I see it, a journal is a wonderful place to map out goals in the public eye, and then track one's progress through those goals. The goal, you see, is to be able to demonsrate to oneself in writing that "I am so fascinating I am going to franchise myself". Let me mention, by the way, that I would much prefer to see a Gurdonark chain of thinkers arise than more of those odd Krispy Kreme doughnut stores. Those franchises remind me of fire ants, as they displace local, wonderful species of home-grown doughnuts in favor of quarter-pounder-like predictability, a whimsy-defeating thing.
One diary-like thing I did last New Year's Eve was to set up a goals sheet. Resolutions? All well and good. But resolutions can so often deal with the life within, that inner conscience that can let people stand by while people starve in rural foreign places, while such well-fed people are worrying about the "sin" of eating one too many Krispy Kreme doughnuts. But a goals sheet! Now we are talking. One can say "I am going to do this tangible thing" and then do it, and then cross it off. There is a great potential for salvation in a "to do" list.
We are nearly through the third quarter of 2005, and so it's a good time to reassess my own goal sheet.
I must warn you, though, that I am indeed so fascinating that I am going to franchise myself. Just look at all the progress I've made:
The Gurdonark Status Report
1. Be kinder to spouse and family
I have by and large complied with this one, and will do better yet.
2. Volunteer fifty more hours to charity or pro bono legal work
I have done a fair amount of volunteer work, and there is still time to do this goal.
3. Lose 12 pounds
So far I've lost 41, so this is my best one, perhaps.
4. de-clutter my spare room
I have completely failed to accomplish this, other than getting some cool huge plastic storage containers.
This must be done!
5. keep my car on its current well-maintained agenda
I have done pretty well with this one, but I need to get my oil changed even as we speak.
6. increase my billable hour output by 96 hours
I would have to see where I am with this one, but I am quite busy now.
7. self-publish another book
I have not done this, but I feel words bursting out of me the way I used to burst out of dress shirts one size too small for me. I want to pursue this with single-minded focus, like a child pursuing a jelly bean across a countertop.
8. submit poetry for potential publication to 20 potential outlets for publication
I have submitted to four, and had poems accepted at two. I can do 16 more by year end. I am also bursting with creativity right now, so that I should convert the creativity into something I can submit.
9. enter 3 poetry contests
I have entered one, my first ever, and found it a great experience. The sponsor forwarded on to me nice comments from the judges, so that although I did not win, I got a lot of good feelings from the whole experience.
Two more by year end is completely do-able.
10. play in four rated chess tournaments, including one to which I take my chess playing nephew
I have played in three this year, and will no doubt meet this goal. My chess playing nephew is cool.
11. set up a more formal Feeder Guppy Rescue League and give away aquaria to schools
I have given away an aquarium to a school, and will do more of that. I have not yet set up a more formal group, but the message board is at 37 now, and it's time to ramp it up a bit.
12. set up indoor plants in my spare room under hip fluorescent lights
This is my Autumn goal. I love the idea of glowing lights and growing plants.
13. reduce my book inventory dramatically
Kill one fly, and seven attend its funeral.
14. learn five new songs on the mountain dulcimer
Well. I have to work on this. But I am proud that on my can-jo (a one stringed dulcimer with a ginger ale can for a resonator), I learned Joy Division's "She's Lost Control", which is a hip thing to be able to dulce.
15. take my fishing nephews on a cool fishing trip
We have been fishing on a great Winter day in which we caught a pond's worth and put them back in the pond. But I want to take them for an even cooler trip.
16. take a great vacation with my wife to someplace we'll both enjoy
We took two! Sanibel AND Virginia. Both trips were wonderful, in very different but wonderful ways.
17. exercise four times a week
I am doing this now. It's working!
18. get my bicycle tires fixed up and take at least 10 rides
I need to do this still. I love bicycling, and yet I don't do it. Must fix.
19. write 150 poems
I am behind on this one. I have perhaps written 10 to 20.
20. write 2 short stories
I have not started this one. I want to do both, because then I can say to nacowafer, "hey, I finished my short story challenge, where's yours?", although in point of fact she's already written a few this year.
21. continue to livejournal
I plan to keep popping up like the perpetual bad penny.
22. pare down possessions, using eBay when fun to sell things off
Mixed progress. I gave the Taj Mahal to a stranger, and then found I had bought the Ramses pyramid on eBay and put it in its place.
23. donate at least five hundred dollars more to charity
24. go on a hiking trip with my friend G.
G. if you're reading this, how about the weekend of 10/1?
25. send a holiday card to all relatives and friends
Yes! I will design this this month! Go for it! Rah, rah rah!
(p.s., I have boxes of unmailed seashells from Sanibel. I will mail them off someday, I promise).
26. create a more extensive work holiday card list
Yes, it's time to do that.
27. pay the 14 dollar and change fine I keep forgetting to pay at the libary
28. host a family picnic for the local relatives
I want to do this.
29. hunt diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds
We have not done this during this year, but I really want to once things cool a bit.
30. hike Trinity Trail from the Brockdale trailhead to Collin Park and back again, at least twice
Yes. I want to do this, but haven't yet. The Fall hiking season is almost upon us, though, and it would be very fun to do this.
31. Learn how to really use my digital camera
Undone, but I will do.
32. write at least 10 real paper letters to people
Would you like a letter? I need to do this.
33. read Swann's Way
still need to start this one.
34. attend two poetry readings
I want to do this.
35. attend more church services
I am behind on this one.
36. fish in three lakes in rural Oklahoma
I have not started this one.
37. fish in the Park Hill Prairie ponds twice
I have done this many times.
38. Go swimmming at least 20 times at the natatorium
I have not hit 20 yet, but still could.
39. utter fewer discouraging words
I am by and large good at this one,but when I get discouraging, I get very discouraging. Blood sugar and despair--doublemint twins.
40. help set up 2 non-profits
I will get 1 up this year, assuming I write the letter to clear a name.
41. submit to four mail art shows
undone, but a good reminder. Need to do this Fall.
42. actually generate the long-past-due documentation on the mail poetry deal
Undone! I feel guilty, but guilt can be assuaged by hard work. Maybe next Saturday.
43. plant marigolds in May
I missed this one. Darn.
44. go deep sea fishing
Done in Sanibel. Great fun. No fish caught.
45. visit three public gardens
Undone, but I will.
46. set up a terrarium
I think that's a glorious Fall project.
47. go on a 30 mile bike ride
48. take pictures of wildflowers
Done! I will post them when I fill a camera full.
49. watch a meteor shower
Done, and glorious.
50. visit a planetarium
undone, but I LOVE planetariums.
What fun! You know, I AM so fascinating I am going to franchise myself. Thanks to all of you for constantly inspiring me to write, to daydream and to do.