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Trying new things

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Roasting chestnuts on an open fire is a lot easier sung than done. Embers, hot ones and a lot of ’em, are required for chestnut roasting. There are a lot of other things to know, too, about actually doing something we hear about in song every year. 

2-inch chestnuts, scored with an "x" on their rounded shell surfaces

But, I did my research! I was prepared! The embers, though, weren’t. The chestnuts weren’t roasted well, if at all. The shells clung to the nuts like a first-day-of-preschool toddler deathgrips his mom. I did everything I was supposed to do. Sometimes there just isn’t enough fire. 

“Well. We tried it!” my daughter said. Yes. We tried it. We didn’t nail the landing. We barely even tasted a chestnut. Yet! There is another experience I can truthfully say I’ve done. 

I don’t usually get ideas for projects from song lyrics. At least, I don’t think I do. I’m not about to go find 8 maids a-milking and gift them to my true love. Human trafficking doesn’t make for a great Christmas gift. Some things are fun to try only because you hear them in a song. Some things shouldn’t be in songs.

If you ask the people around me if I’m “up for anything,” you’d get wildly different answers. My spouse would say I’m “not good” with change. My neighbors would say “I wouldn’t be surprised” if they’d heard I base-jumped off the highest building in Philadelphia. My kids might say I come up with “crazy schemes” like the time I invited a French exchange student to live with us for the summer, or said, “Yeah, we can get a dog.” Friends from all eras would each have one story about me that would demonstrate clearly their point, whether it be I’m a Wentz-dive-in-the-end-zone-head-first-er or a Rodgers-fall-back-into-the-pocket-and-wait-er.

It’s hard to predict which new things I’ll try and which new things I’ll try to avoid. My new thing over the past year is to study mindfulness and dedication. My official stance on mindfulness is that it’s crap and you need to be wary of the sources of the “mindfulness=more” message. Looketh thine eyes to Wall Street, whence cometh their fake Buddhist faith. Personally, though, I’ve been a big advocate for mindfulness my entire life. Dedication, “discipline”… those are foreign concepts for me. The One Thing book by Kellar told me to forget the discipline doctrine. We need be disciplined in only one area to succeed: Our One Thing. No need to live a monastic life. But dedication is all-encompassing. Dedication requires full attention and devotion. 

4-hours/day, 5 days/week is what I’m putting aside for fiction writing. If this move produces results, this is a commitment I’m hoping to honor for a mighty long time. It’s new. My old habits are throwing tantrums as I shake them up to make room for this new one. Sometimes the nursery school workers have to pry them from my body. But once I’m gone, they won’t miss me. And I can have some precious hours to myself to work toward a novel.