2012: The War on Big Talk

By not following through on things, I’ve caused more damage to my self-image and confidence than all of the frustrations or bad luck the world has ever thrown at me. 

The older I get, the harder the could’ves and should’ves tend to bite. On the other hand, when I start something and I finish it, I feel like I have a full tank of gas and a wallet full of cash. The feeling is like body armor against the bullet points on lists of others’ accomplishments: the world’s overachievers are far less intimidating when I know that I’m putting one foot in front of the other toward a goal. And no, I don’t mean daily living goals like paying bills or showing up on time, which I often hear being used as excuses. I mean deeper and scarier ones. I mean being my own Army drill sergeant and shoving myself toward the completion of something, toward self-discovery.

Take Cuba, for example. I really need to experience a piece of the world where America’s corporatized authority isn’t jumping out at me from around every corner, where I don’t feel safeguarded by convenience and an ability to sue someone. I talk about gettin’ down there before Castro kicks the bucket and the place is turned into a WalMart, but I’m not doing a damn thing to get there.

When the topic comes up among friends less informed about the political ramifications or legalities, I’m always the first to spout, “Meh, it’s easy. You just fly outta’ Mexico or Canada or the UK. No problem!” What an asshole. I don’t know the first thing about what it takes to get to Cuba in spite of the American embargo. And have I saved any money to go? Psh! Of course not! But there are countless books on my shelves related to Castro and the Revolution and Cuban history and its people. (For those of you sickened by the idea of traveling to Cuba against the wishes of the U.S. State – or actually Treasury – Department, go chew on an old shoe: I’m not visualizing a cause or a party doctrine here, I’m talking about the mother of all time machines.)

The point is, I have to change that; save for it; make it happen — or shut the hell up. I go to ridiculous lengths to make sure I’m not the blabbering poser in the room, so I can’t allow this to stick out like a sore thumb anymore.

Ah, but then there’re those bookshelves I want to build, the already purchased materials for which are still stacked in the garage untouched. There’s also the stuff I should list on eBay and the short film I wanna make, plus all the other things that really boil down to self expression. (If following through on something and feeling great about it upon completion isn’t the truest and most productive form of self expression, I don’t know what is.) In that regard, I don’t need money to feel big; I need only to strive for the means to express myself in this way. And no, Facebook doesn’t effin’ count. I find more longing, emptiness, and unfulfilled promises on Facebook than I ever did in prison, and that’s sayin’ something. No, I mean something that encourages delayed gratification and that requires me to push myself. (And if there’s anything that doesn’t urge me to push myself, it’s Facebook).

So in the name of being less of a talker and more of a doer, I find only one thing worth considering in the coming year: Who gives a shit who’s first? The only thing that really matters is who crosses the finish line.

Happy Holidays, and whether or not the Mayans are right, may you kick-ass in 2012.