I am not a planner. If I were, this blog would be freshly updated every week regardless of visiting inlaws (and outlaws), the Christmas Crazies, and snow the likes of which hasn't been seen in this part of the country for over ten years. Yes, I'd have plotted out my calendar and stuck to the schedule--Update blog on Monday.
Though I do force myself to deadlines when necessary, I am more of the wait-for-inspiration-to-strike sort. This is generally all well and good for freelance writing and other creative pursuits, not so good if one has dreams of getting, say, physically fit. If I'm bored, busy, tired, or distracted by rich holiday food tucked in the refrigerator, I'm not so inspired. Hence, the need for goals and planning in life.
It is with my short comings in mind that I approach 2009 (and a new year does induce inspiration). How can I give/achieve more in the coming year--more in relationships, physically, and in the use of time and talents? It seems if one does not plan to be inspired, and isn't inspired to plan, many worthwhile goals will be abandoned long before they have a chance to come to fruition. Perhaps the problem, for me, lies in focusing on too lofty a goal. Rather than daily committing myself to the written word and weekly/monthly targets I can reach, I focus on, say, publishing my book (destined, of course, for the New York Times Bestseller list and negotiating movie rights). With my horsemanship it shows up as attempting flying changes (with much frustration, for two years now!), rather than working my horse on the principles of collection at the walk and trot. Success is in polishing the details I am learning.
Success, I was recently reminded, is also in focusing on the small thing we can do with great love and devotion. As I go over resolutions for 2009 I'm thinking on a person I would like to emulate this year, both as a writer, horse lover, and human being.
Anna Sewell was born to strict Quaker parents in 19th century Victorian England. Sickly and insignificant, an accident left her permanently crippled at a young age (perhaps contributing to her never marrying or bearing children). Then, at age 51, Sewell contracted a mysterious illness that rendered her housebound. These facts did not stop her from doggedly pursuing the writing of a "little book" she hoped would move the hearts of horse owners to treat their beasts with compassion and kindness. No doubt there were more pressing concerns in society in the 1870's but Sewell kept her focus to one thing--changing the frequent, blatant cruelty against horses. This was perhaps best symbolized by the use of the bearing rein. This rein had no purpose save that of fashion. It kept a horse's head unnaturally high, the neck forcibly arched. Horses consistently restrained in this way suffered respiratory problems, reduced vision, and loss of balance, often resulting in pain, illness and death. Sewell abhorred the bearing rein.
It took six years, with much help, for Sewell to finish Black Beauty, her one and only writing achievement. This "little book" would capture the hearts and imaginations of people everywhere, becoming a classic, and no doubt helping to change the treatment of "dumb" animals all over the world. Sewell would never live to see the fruit of her labor of love. Five months after Black Beauty was published, she died of complications related to her illness.
When the last light of 2009 is going dark on December 31, I would like to say I gave myself wholeheartedly to even one true and worthwhile thing, no matter how seemingly insignificant or lacking in obvious reward.
In this way, flying changes can be achieved.