Friday, January 8, 2016

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Resolutions

Happy New Year! What are some of your New Year’s resolutions, writing or otherwise?

by Paul D. Marks

Resolutions, we don’t need no stinkin’ resolutions, say I, echoing Gold Hat in the movie classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

And, aside from that I also echo Calvin’s sentiments in the cartoon shown here.

Just kidding about that one – I ain’t perfect. Just ask my wife.

But on the serious side, I didn’t make any resolutions this year because, as they say, resolutions are made to be broken. So why make them? That said, I do have goals, both personal and professional.

But whether goals or resolutions sometimes we don’t achieve them. I’d like to win an Academy Award, live in Malibu, go to the moon, but I don’t think I’ll ever achieve any of those things. But there are other things that are more reachable. And my attitude has always been to shoot for the moon, then you might reach the top of a mountain, but if all you do is shoot for a mole hill, even if you achieve it you haven’t achieved much.

The worst thing in the world, to me at least, is not to try. It’s like the saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.” I feel that way about working on goals. It’s better to try and lose than not to try at all.

A Tale of Two Friends

Friend 1: John Doe wanted to be a writer. We started out at the same time. Went through a lot of the same trials and tribulations of trying to make it in Hollywood. His wife wanted him to give it up, get a real job. Make money. And he did all of those things. But he wasn’t happy. He took it out on me, not his wife. Why? Because I stuck it out. He resented that. He got snippy with me to be polite about it. I was doing what he wanted to be doing and even though he was making more money than me and more consistently, early on, he had given up his dream. And I represented what he reluctantly gave up. I was more stubborn and I suppose more willing to make sacrifices to pursue that dream. And eventually I started having some success here and there. For some time John and I barely talked. But over time we became civil towards each other if not the good friends we had been. But giving up on his dream made him bitter, though sometimes one does have to give in to reality.

Friend 2: Joe Doakes wanted to be a doctor and a rock star – not that there’s anything wrong with that. And the two might not be totally incompatible, but not easy to achieve at the same time I would think. When neither of those happened for different reasons, he settled on a safe job with the government, doing the rock thing on the side. I think it satisfies part of that dream for him, but I also think he feels a loss and a longing for what might have been.

Are they happy now? To one degree or another. Both have families. Some sort of stability. But neither has the “artistic” wild ride they’d wanted. But there’s always tradeoffs and compromises. I think both have made peace to a large degree with their decisions. Would they have been happier sticking to their original goals? I don’t know. Would my relationship with both have been better through the years if they hadn’t given up their dreams and watched me pursue mine, probably.

I guess the moral of this story is we all have to make choices and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Whatever choices we do make, we have to be true to ourselves and respect other people’s choices to live their lives the way they choose.

I’m not saying John and Joe didn’t try. And they certainly had more job security than I did. Nor have I achieved all of my goals, whether losing a certain amount of weight or achieving the New York Times bestseller list. But I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do. To quote Frank Sinatra, “I’ve done it my way,” for good or bad, but I did it on my own terms. It hasn’t been easy, but whose life is? We all make choices and we all make compromises. I’m not always happy with my lot in life. But I do have a lot of good things to be thankful for, as my wife reminds me, and I need to focus more on that and on having gratitude for the good things.
So I suppose if I have one resolution it’s to be more grateful.

Oh, and one more resolution is not to do much BSP in the coming year: But wait, like I said, resolutions are made to be please check out Vortex, my noir-thriller novella (which means it’s short – you can finish it quickly!). And if you’re eligible to vote for the Lefty Awards from Left Coast Crime, I hope you’ll consider it for – here it comes and it’s a mouthful: “Best mystery novel set in the Left Coast Crime Geographic Region (Mountain Time Zone and all time zones westward to Hawaii)”. Vortex definitely fits the bill. Set in L.A., Venice, CA, Hollywood, the Salton Sea and on/at the Shakespeare Bridge in Los Feliz/L.A. Ballots are due by January 15th. And right now the book is still on sale at Amazon/Kindle for a mere 99 cents. Cheap!

And Happy New Year to all ye merry Criminal Minds and our esteemed readers.


GBPool said...

And more thing, my friend. You don't have to make excuses for why you didn't do what you really wanted to do. Even if someone has to hold down a 9-5 job, he can still have the rock band in the garage. Or maybe write a book or two while he takes care of his family. It's when he says he has a dream and never follows that dream, you have to say he didn't really have a dream at all. You had a dream and are living proof it can be achieved. You did it without excuses.

Paul D. Marks said...

Hi Gayle, I never made excuses for what I did or didn't do. I did exactly what I wanted to do and haven't had to have a 9-5 job in decades. But my two friends didn't. And both were bitter and one in particular took it out on me since I didn't give up. I made no judgments on them, but they judged themselves I think and felt like they weren't really doing what they wanted to be doing.

Art Taylor said...

Wisdom here, Paul: " I guess the moral of this story is we all have to make choices and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Whatever choices we do make, we have to be true to ourselves and respect other people’s choices to live their lives the way they choose."

Those stories resonate with me, having seen similar scenarios play out elsewhere myself.

Happy New Year!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Art. I guess it's just human nature.

And Happy New Year to you, too!