One thing I've seen a few times is a list of things you should give up in order to be happy. That seems so negative to me. Life is short enough already without constantly depriving ourselves of things. But I guess I see the point. Often, in order to do something positive, we have to stop doing something negative.
To make my year work—indeed, the rest of my life—I have to stop doing something I've done my whole life: holding back. Editing. Not going for it. Not following through. Failing to focus completely on a goal.
It's a lesson I'm feeling right now, thinking back on last night. Sweetie and I were going out to a New Year's Eve party. She went downtown to get her hair and makeup done. She came back with her hair looking great and a stunning makeup job complete with beautiful long eyelashes that really made her eyes pop. She wore a simple but very nice little black dress that she had actually had for years. She finished the look with a fascinator, a sparkly necklace, and some long black gloves. Me, I spent big bucks on a dress. A fabulous dress, to be sure, black, short, form-fitting, and lacy, but that's where I put most of my effort. I added a nice necklace. My hair is bobbed, so I didn't think anything could be done with it. But I never actually found out. And I did my own makeup, because I'm good at it. But I can't do glam, and I don't have false eyelashes. And I'm not that good at doing my makeup, not like a professional.
I held back. Remember that old United States Army slogan, "Be all that you can be"? I never fucking do that. I regret it every time I hold back, but I do it again and again, like a drunk who forgets how bad the last hangover was. The New Year's Eve thing was minor, silly really, but it's indicative of something larger. I can feel the regret in my stomach.
You should not have regrets on your birthday, on the first day of a new year. That's a stupid way to start the year. Mistakes are fine, but only if you make new ones, because if you make the same old ones, you're not learning. If I finally do learn this lesson, then it's probably not a bad way to start the year. And I must learn it this year. I have to stop holding myself back and start going for it.
Why "must"? Why this year? Because I have important shit to do. The status of my band has changed. Really it has only gone back to what it ever was, a band in which four friends have fun making music. I had pushed it in a direction I need very much but no one else in the band wants. I love playing with them and will continue to do so, but it's clear now that I seriously overstepped.
So I need a new primary project. For me, treating my music as a career (however unlikely I am to be successful) is fun, more fun than just playing. Coming up with a new project is both exciting and scary. At this point, it's just me and my guitars and some new songs, many only partially finished. No band, no partner, no real prospects yet.
I gave the Hotcakes a pretty good push. I put a lot of effort into making the band successful. I could have worked both harder and smarter, but I definitely improved on my track record. Now it's time to do better.
Sweetie had not read this blog post when she handed me a birthday card earlier today. The front has a picture of a dessert tower with a quote from Bette Midler: "I want it all, and I would like it delivered." Inside, the message reads: "It's your birthday. Don't settle."
Perfect, right? Is the universe telling me something? This year begins with a new lunar cycle. I look ahead to the next two weeks, the next month, the next season, the next year and beyond. Maybe even next New Year's Eve. No settling. No holding back. That's advice that doesn't suck. I mean, really, after six decades, it's about fucking time.