New Year’s resolutions are nice, but life doesn’t cycle in neat periods of 12 months at a time. Rather than listing resolutions at the head of the new year, I tend to push the reset button when life demands it, or when procrastination happens to disappear as a viable option. Plus, if you sign up for a gym membership in March, you miss battling the New Year’s resolution crowd for equipment.
The idea of the year in review, however, I like. Each experience brings a lesson. Each lesson becomes a point on the compass I draw in the sand for the coming year. Many of these insights are deceptively obvious. Some will change. I’m glad that I got to live them this year, understand them with my full being. And I’m grateful to everyone–friends, family, frenemies, enemies, acquaintances, buddies, colleagues, clients, strangers–who helped bring forth and nurture these experiences.
Here are 13 things that experience taught me in 2013:
1. The simplest goals take the most persistence to reach.
2. Each dream, when pursued, comes with its own conditions. These conditions, in turn, demand that you change as a person in order to pursue—to live—that dream.
3. Patience is letting go of the way things should be.
4. If you change your habits in one area of your life, that change spills over to other areas like rings in a pond.
5. Sometimes you have to trust the process more than the people. Maybe always.
6. Dance is an enlightened way of moving through space and time.
7. Good mentors are like gold. They help you find the stepping stones to your dreams, and make sure you keep walking in the right direction.
8. A short story can take a year or two to finish writing. Along the way, it unravels worlds, teaches you the craft of writing, forces you to look at regions of your own psyche that you don’t dare explore in everyday life.
9. Capitalism takes advantage of free will. There’s always someone who’s willing to be paid less—or willing to pay you more.
10. We live on layers of sand, gravel, stone and manufactured materials. This is called landscaping, and the Earth is always taking it back for herself.
11. Climate disasters are normal now. In the long term, it is the community that repairs the damage, to the land it lives on and to its own psyche.
12. Technologists really do want to build robots that take over the world, and are actively doing so. Questions of human will and freedom are currently less regarded than pride (of invention) and profit.
13. Most often, on a given day, 20% of people are trolls—either virtual trolls or real ones. 80% of people are nice. You can’t change the trolls, but you can thank—and be among—the nice ones.