I could wax eloquently about the search for meaning in my life after a brush with death in the form of a particularly nefarious form of cancer. I could frame it in bucket list and/or YOLO terms, just to be multi-generational. If I tried hard enough, I could probably even find a way to put it in the context of world events, vis a vis the geo-political landscape in eastern Europe and its impact on agriculture prices.
But in the end it’s really just because I’m kinda bored.
The “it” in question is this, The Year of Living Differently, in which I plan on doing something new or different, that I have never done before, every single day for an entire year.
The idea got its genesis during my health hoohah, which I am now calling The Year of Living with Cancer. The night before I was going in for a massive surgery I wrote a piece called “21 Words,” in which I looked back on my life with what a not insignificant amount of regret. This is part of what I said:
I don’t think I took enough chances in my life. I’m not talking about risky stuff like bungee jumping or wearing white after Labor Day, but rather the chances we can take, both big and small, that can turn a good life into a great one. For instance, I think I would have had a career as a writer if I had more often ignored the blasted Midwestern work ethic that constantly whispered in my ear saying, “You need to have a job and a regular paycheck and health insurance and security.”
So if I may offer some advice, either to you or to myself if/when I live through all of this it is as follows: don’t be so fucking afraid. Take a chance or do something new, every day, even if it’s something small. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never visited. Take a different way to work and pay attention to what you are driving past. Introduce yourself to that guy at the bar or that girl on the bus or the person at the bookstore looking at the latest from your favorite author who might just wind up being your new best friend. Get a tattoo, learn how to dance, sing karaoke, go bungee jumping… whatever that thing is that you have wanted to do but haven’t… why not?
I lived through it, and although it took me awhile to get here, I have finally decided to take my own advice, mainly because now that the medical drama is over I am, as stated above, a little bored. The medical drama wasn’t fun, but it certainly kept me busy.
So I am committing myself to doing at least one completely different, totally new, never-been-done-before something every day. The something can be something big or small, time consuming or quick, easy or hard, but the key here is that it’s something new.
I haven’t come up with specific new things yet; I’m going to sort of go with the flow, which is a new thing for me right there. Normally I’m the type of person who plans obsessively, makes lists, organizes things in binders (including cancer), and then tries to stick to the prescribed program no matter how badly things go off the rails. But for this I’m going to try to be as spontaneous as a curmudgeonly 47 year old can be. So while I have some vague categories – food, travel, culture (pop and otherwise), etc. – I have not planned out every single one of the 365 days in 2014 like some might think I would do. What the new something is going to be will be as much of a surprise to me as it will be to anyone reading this.
I can tell you for sure that one of the new things will not be bungee jumping. Or jumping out of an airplane. No jumping of any kind, most likely, unless it’s rope although I’ve done that before so that probably doesn’t count as new. Jumping up and down at an EDM concert is possible but I am not holding a glow stick. In other words I’m not expecting earth shaking, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and neither should you. Eating a new type of sandwich might be as exciting as it gets on most days.
The plan is to update this blog every day. We’ll see how that goes, but even if I don’t write about the new thing every day, I will still do the new thing every day. You can still view all the posts about the Year of Living with Cancer via the link in the top navigation.
The Year of Living Differently begins January 1, 2014. I’ll be in Las Vegas that day so at least all this will start with a bang.