The Summit

December 28Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

I think it is disingenuous to ignore two, fundamental things about this moment.

1) I am in South America — Santiago, Chile, to be exact.

2) I am traveling alone, and have been since Christmas eve.

These are, of course, the macro facets of this moment.  The micro parts, are that I am back in Santiago after having spent the last two days on Easter Island (a story I’ll get to in a moment).  And that I am, in this moment, sunburned, and consuming a delicious glass of local Carmenere, while my New Yorkers gnash their teeth at me from under two feet of snow.

I am not sorry.  I am the kind of woman who typically gets in the wrong line at the grocery; who selects the FINAL SALE garment with the stain on it from the table full of unblemished ones.  It is not to say that I deserve this moment.  But it is to say that, on balance, right now, I am exactly where I need to be.

So if the question is, what do I hope to achieve in the new year, and how do I hope to achieve it?  Maybe I came down here, in part, to address that question.

I have learned a few things so far, while traveling, but the primary one is that there is no one thing that makes a person feel happy, complete, blissful.

I realized that a few years ago in Western China, and remembered it the other night with the breeze blowing in off the Pacific on an Easter Island night.  And as the family who owned the inn at which I stayed kissed me as I headed off to the airport today to travel back to Santiago, I remembered that back in 2008, when my world was crumbling, and I took off for China, my desperate heart wanted only one thing — to stay true to myself.

The same holds true now.

The truth is: happiness is not so simple. And lasting happiness, or bettering ourselves cannot necessarily be achieved through resolutions, or quick fixes to the human predicament of being born alone and leaving this world alone.

I am blessed to have secretly resolved, in 2010, to connect with people, on a fundamental level, after having spent my 2009 finishing off my 50 things I wanted to do in 10 years.  This past year was about re-settling and reconnecting.  And I think this next year will be about deepening those connections; blowing the bellows on the coals of those relationships; and continuing to stay true to myself.

Which is a doing thing.

This year, that means spending more time seeing people one-on-one.  And also climbing Mt. Whitney.

Simple achievements, I think, are the best.

Though I suppose climbing a huge mountain is not necessarily a simple achievement.  But after you get a law degree or two, pass two bars, put a couple of men through rehab, and get divorced, a couple of marathons and the tallest peak in the lower 48 seems like a bloody effing cakewalk.

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