21 in 21

I’m not superstitious about numbers or their significance. I believe that the only significance of 666 is that it comes after 665. But I am a fan of symmetry, so when my friend Alison came up with the idea of 21 in 21, I liked it. (She later discovered that someone else had already come up with the idea but you can’t copyright numbers so they can just bug off.)

With Alison’s kind permission, I sent out enquiries about what people might want from 2021. World peace and an end to Covid are givens and I’m pleased to report that nobody suggested either. I’m equally glad that nobody asked for magic beans, although if you happen to have any, I’ll send you my address.

Mostly what people wanted was to find the best in ourselves and the world around us. The past four years seemed an endless infestation of termites gnawing at the foundations of society, Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty nestled in asbestos-lined jackets, sharing a hemlock cocktail and nibbling on lead paint.

Yesterday the clouds parted. Today, the birds sing a little louder and the flowers bloom a little brighter. The earth’s gravity seems just a little weaker and the stars just a little closer. I think a lot of people are feeling the same thing. So here is a collection of 21 thoughts for 2021, published on the 21st. Food for thought, a snack or a feast. It’s up to you.

1) Spend some time outdoors every day, no matter what the weather. If you’re somewhere really cold, a couple of seconds are enough.

2) Enjoy art. Any kind, any way: draw a picture, write a poem, dance in your underwear at a museum…online.

3) Learn how to fix the drip in your shower or fold an origami crane or make a cheese soufflé. The University of Youtube is open 24/7.

4) Move toward sustainable clothing: natural fibers, organic/fair trade items. Find ways to use fewer plastics. Consider the difference between wanting something and needing it.

5) Do a mindfulness activity or add meditation to your routine. Count to ten. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

6) Check in with a friend/family to say hello at least once a week. Reconnect with old friends. Write a letter on paper; use a stamp.

7) Think of something, or three things, or a hundred things you are grateful for each day. Write them down.

8) Keep a journal. Use multi-colored pens and stickers.

9) Do something fun every day. Give yourself some goof off time every week. Set boundaries so you have time for yourself. Laugh out loud. Find your happy place.

10) Work on that ‘hard thing’ for an hour, every week. Or 15 minutes; use a timer.

11) Drink more water. Eat more vegetables. Taste something you’ve never tasted.

12) Follow through on good intentions; the best opportunities may only come once. Brownie points are worth more than you realize.

13) Look in the mirror and say, “Today is going to be a good day.” Look for the silver lining.

14) Read a book you’ve always wanted to read. Suggestions offered included War and Peace, Animal Farm, Les Miserables, Chronicles of Narnia, A Tale of Two Cities, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Three Musketeers, The Brothers Karamazov, Moby Dick.
   *If anybody succeeds, let me know!

15) Volunteer. Pick up trash. Help someone who can’t help themselves. Offer to wash the dishes. Your time is yours to give.

16) Be kind. Smile at people. Give compliments. Try to mean them.

17) Ten minutes tidy: spend 10 minutes a day doing something to connect yourself with your home and with yourself. Refold your socks. Clean out a drawer. Dust around the door frames. Make your bed. Put away the laundry.

18) Go someplace you’ve never been, even if it’s in your imagination. Be curious.

19) Practice compassionate listening, but not just listening to others. Listen to your own heart. Acknowledge when you do right or wrong. Look for the best in yourself. Forgive yourself for the worst.

20) Give in to the joy of spontaneity.

21) Let yourself be you.

Got anything to add? Let me know. I’d be happy to add updates although the management reserves the right to edit, delete or ignore with no explanation given. It’s my blog. I make the rules. XXXOOO

Erection

A modest bow of acknowledgement and gratitude to Jonelle Patrick

One Tuesday evening in November long ago, probably in 1988 but maybe it was 1992, I walked into a classroom to teach English. It was a night class. The students were mostly male, salaried workers in rumpled suits with laundry bags of exhaustion hanging under their eyes.

I smiled my perkiest smile and said, “Today is a special day in the United States. Does anyone know why?”

Heads were scratched and air was sucked and finally one brave fellow, striped necktie askew, looked up at me.

“You have an erection?”

Fighting the urge to look down to make sure, I walked to the chalkboard and wrote the word, spelled correctly, and hoped the issue would tuck its tail under its chin and fade into the ugly carpet.

And now, so many years later, on another Tuesday in November, decades and oceans away, I can only hope the current reign of terror will tuck its tail under its chin and make its way into the carpet.

But I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. Judging by the past four years, the current nightmare is unlikely to die a noble death or even attempt a scrap of dignity. With luck, the will of the people will capture it in a net and toss it out the window, ignorance, arrogance, bigotry and all, and it will get sucked into the annals of history, never to rear its ugly head again.

Let sanity reign.