Saturday, January 03, 2015

New Year's Resolution: Do Each Day Right

The alarm was sounding.  "Craaah-craaah-craaah-craaah..."  I could hear it echoing in the old school building.  
I looked around, but no one else seemed to be noticing.  No one was sticking their heads out of their windows.  No sirens from approaching police or fire engines.  No smoke billowing out of a back window.  
I had been walking along Del Mar, past what used to be Madison HIgh School, but which was now the headquarters for the Pasadena Unified School District.  I heard the alarm sound as I pulled even with the old building.  I've walked past it more times that I can count, when heading to the gym I go to or walking to Starbucks, usually on weekends or holidays when I get up later and want to find someplace to write without the distractions of a sofa and TV.  
This was the first time I'd heard an alarm sound.  I waited a bit, expecting it to suddenly cut off.  Someone was testing it.  Or it had gone off accidently and someone back there, unseen inside the darkened building, would shut it off just as the alarm company was calling to verify whether or not there was an emergency.
"No, no...  Sorry.  I was carrying stuff out of the supply closet and, I guess I was carrying too much stuff, I do that all time..."  A nervous, embarrassed chuckle.  A quick swallow when the person on the other side sighs.  "Anyway...  My elbow hit the alarm switch when I tried to keep this box of tissues from falling..."  
"Craaah-craaah-craaah-craaah..."  The alarm just kept going on.  
I stood on my tip-toes to peek over the fence.  Their doing construction on the building.  Remodeling.  This is part of the reason why I thought the alarm was a mistake.  Something getting tripped while they were doing something electrical.  
There didn't seem anyone around there.  No hammering or sawing.  No one shouting, "Who turned that damn thing on?" or laughing at someone's mistake.  
I was thinking of going around the fence to see if anything was going on, but there was this great big sign right in front of me that read, "Keep Out - Under Construction."  You could tell the sign was serious in its efforts to inform people they shouldn't go in by the big red letters against a solid black background.  
Not wanting to piss the sign off, or discover that there was a REAL reason for the alarm that might get spilled all over my good intentions, and still figuring that it was in all likelihood a mistake, I continued on my way.  I looked back a couple of times to see if I could spot anything, but by the end of the block I was fully committed to ignoring the alarm.  
It occurred to me today that I might be like the old school building.  Giving off mixed signals. 

I mentioned in my last post that I've not been in a good mood this holiday.  The best words I can think to describe my mood would be "cranky" or "contrary."  When I watched one of the several versions of A Christmas Carol broadcast this year, I found myself rooting for Scrooge.  Telling him to "hang tough" and stick to his guns.  A Christmas Carol is actually my favorite Christmas tale, one in the past that has turned me around and gotten me into the Christmas spirit.  
Not this year though.  It took me all the way until New Year's Even to lighten up, and then only by making myself eulogize the previous year and acknowledge the good things in it that had happened to me.  By New Year's Day, I was into the spirit, hanging out with friends at the New Year's Day festival in Little Tokyo.  
Drinking over a dozen cups of sake might have had something to do with the good feeling, but it can't take all the credit.  Try drinking that much by yourself, alone, wherever you happen to live, and you'll see what I mean.  
Walking home from the train station on New Year's, the only downer was the realization that I had missed the holidays.  I was in the mood, but they were now, officially, over.  Too bad for me.  
I also noticed, as I looked back over my behavior for the previous weeks, that I was participating in what I'll call the Suicide's Dilemma.  
I don't know if it has a real name (it probably does and I don't know enough formal psychology to know what it is), but in accounts of people who've thought of or attempted suicide, I've often heard them talk about this moment when they've have given the world the opportunity to stop them.  
It'll go something like this: "I was sitting on the bus, on my way to the bridge I planned on jumping from, looking around at the other people, sitting there, laughing and talking, but not talking or saying anything to me, and I thought to myself, 'If one person, just ONE PERSON, says something to me or asks me how I feel, or even smiles and says to me to have a nice day, I won't go through with it.  I get off the bus and head back home and not jump off the bridge."  
Typically no one says anything and its something else that interferes with the person's attempt.  
When I hear accounts like this my reaction is, "That's really stupid."  Why would anyone base their decision to end their lives, or any decision of any import, on some random reaction of someone else.  Just thinking about the number of times I've been in a group of strangers, I can't recall a single moment when I thought, "Hey...  That person looks like they might be thinking of suicide.  Maybe I should ask them how they're doing and save them from themselves."  
It touches on something I've said about suicides, a somewhat facetious piece of advice: If you feel like killing yourself, stop.  Think about the person most responsible for making you feel that way.  Go kill them instead.  
I repeat for anyone reading this who might take me up on this: It is said ONLY to underscore the fact that I think killing yourself is STUPID.  The world is already working hard to take you out.  Your job is to keep that from happening for as long as you possibly can.  OK?  Got it?  Good.
I wasn't feeling suicidal this year either.  I want to make that clear, too.  But I noticed in my rather negative behavior that, quite often, I was given the people I was dealing with an opening to do...  Something.  Not say things like, "Happy Holidays," or anything like that.  They were already doing that to excess without any prompting from me.  But upon reflection I would see that I was waiting for...  Something, to happen.  Something I could use to, in some way, make myself feel better.  
The problem is that I'm still not entirely sure exactly what sort of reaction I was hoping to get.  This, I guess, makes my behavior doubly stupid (I deserve the term).  One, for basing how I wanted things to go on some random input from others.  Two, for not even being clear enough to know what reaction I wanted.  
I was like the old school building on Del Mar.  I'm going "Craaah-Craah-Craah-Craah" in the hopes someone would react, but I'm holding up a sign saying, "Keep Out - Under Construction."  If you do things like that, it's no wonder people will keep walking with maybe only a glance or two your way.  
The "Under Construction" sign analogy is quite apt, I think.  Even at my age, I still think of myself as a work in progress.  And like everyone I have sharp edges, dangerous objects laying around in my psyche that someone might step on, buttons that can be pushed on accident that will get me screaming like that alarm.  We should all take note of these things and be sure to point them out to people coming close to us.  Part of my remodeling project will be something like public service announcements to let people know when they are getting too close to these dangerous things.  In a preemptive, non-aggressive way.  
New Year's is an artificial demarcation.  There is no reason to wait until January 1st, or December 25th or September 13th (a day picked at random) to start making changes or doing things to improve one's life.  But we do it.  And if works, there is no reason to slight it. 
I have a list of things that I want to do, have done, change or do better at in 2015.  This is the very same list that helped me turn my mood around a few days ago.  With this blog entry almost over, I won't start this list now.  But, I can boil them all down to this saying: 
In 2015, I want to Do Each Day Right.  Simple.  I know what it means.  I how its application to almost every facet of my life.  I'm starting this...  Now. 
That's my New Year's Resolution in a nutshell.  What's yours?  


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