Sarah Rosemary at Sunny Side Up and I are hosting our own Reverb11, a series of prompts to look back on 2011 and manifest the new year.  Please check our Reverb11 pages for details, and join in!

Prompt for December 13: Achieve: What do you hope to achieve next year? If you participated in Reverb10, did you achieve the things you wrote about last year? How did you accomplish that?

I had dinner with a writer friend the other night, and he said: I think you keep mining your past for material.  It was a polite-ish way of saying: Stop living in the past.

He went on: I’m not criticising.

I know.  You’re stating a fact of which I am painfully aware.  It’s like I’m trying to resolve something and I’m getting nowhere.  Like I’m trying to create a unified theory of love.

We changed the subject, finished a lovely dinner, and parted ways on a chilly Upper East Side evening.

But it got me wondering — what do I want to achieve?  Is letting go of the past a necessary condition to formulating some unified theory of the future?

As we have discussed, ad nauseam, I am goal-oriented.  Last year, during Reverb10, I said I wanted to climb Mt Whitney.  And so I did.  I climbed Mt Whitney with my girlfriends, and we wrote all about it, and I won’t bore you with writing about it again, except to say that the cliche about the journey being the destination is a worn-out phrase for a reason: it’s true.

I have a lot of things I want to achieve: I want to climb more mountains (Ranier, Kilimanjaro); I want to run the “big” marathons (New York, London, Chicago, Berlin, Boston — 2 down, 3 to go); I would love to raise a family (but I’m not sure what that’s going to look like yet.)  There are places I want to travel; things I want to make and have and see and do.

But in the short-term, in the next 12 months, what does “achievement” look like?

I’d like to be a better runner — and by that I mean “quality” not “quantity” of running.  I’d like to continue to shave seconds, minutes off of my race times.  In that same vein, I want to run the Berlin Marathon and/or the London Marathon.

I’d like to watch more James Bond movies.

I’ll cook more.  I say that every year, but I’d like this year to be the one I do it.  Maybe I’ll take cooking lessons.  In all my…free time…

I want to stop talking about having been married.  That’s over.  I want to quit post-morteming it to death.  This is a dead horse, not a pinata.  All that’s going to fly out at me when I smack this thing again is blood, guts, and putrefied insides — there will be no candy.

That’s what I hope to achieve: good running; interesting racing; taking time to be better versed in the fine points of cheesy cinema; developing some ferocious knife skillz; and acquiring the ability to Let. It. Go.

Do I live in the past?  Undoubtedly.  I mine it for material; I review and revise it constantly so I can formulate some plan for how I will live going forward without making further mistakes.

I don’t want to undermine my well-crafted race plans, and I don’t want to cut off a finger or anything, but I think the point, too, is that it’s time I got comfortable with mess.  Imperfection.  Mistakes.  Oops.  The reality is that I’m going to burn some food that I cook; I’m going to run some nasty races.  Things will end badly.  Dishes will not taste good.  Some of those James Bond movies are just…horrible.

But there’s value inherent in the experience of doing, and trying, and experiencing those imperfect moments.  So I think this video about this gorgeous little children’s book sums up just what I’d like to achieve this year:

I would like to achieve something unique and beautiful, mindful of the fact that I cannot undo what I’ve already done; conscious that these endless “post-mortems” are still me living in the past, and it is time to achieve good things in present-tense.