2017: Volume 11!

I’m like you, tending to regard the milestone of a new year as more just a psychological construct than anything of real import or significance. I suppose it’s what you make of it; I’ve never really tried to make much of New Years. Back in grad school a classmate turned me onto the idea of not drinking in January—dry out after the amped up holiday season and all that—which I did for quite a few years. I’ve obviously taken that agenda a bit further at this point. Otherwise, I was never one for resolutions and have no slideshow of futility to show for it.

All the same, I’m a sport, and happy New Year to you. May peace and safety be yours this weekend, and for a good long while after that as well.

I’m not real fond of some aspects of 2016—didn’t like the outcome of the election, hated saying goodbye to some of my cultural heroes. At the same time, there were some real gains on the environmental front (the accelerating proliferation of green energy sources, the two new national monuments, the—at least temporarily—successful resistance of the Dakota pipeline), and given the market’s rally, the coffers are certainly fuller at this point. I wouldn’t call that a draw, and God only knows what 2017’s going to bring, but things are what they are and I’ve never been a fan of pre-bumming. We shall see. And pray.  (A lot!)

Things on the home front are good, very good, even (touch wood). At the risk of tempting fate, my career as a school counselor places me ringside to a lot of families dealing with a lot of real challenges. So I know perfectly well how good we have it in our own family, dealing with at worst the nominal hiccups and stutter steps of adolescence in our two girls. They’re both pretty happy, both pretty well adjusted, both making their way forward.  Good health all around.  In fact, is it possible that our biggest challenge these days is the physical well-being of our 13 ½ year old golden, Calvin (who, barring one bit of toe funkiness and being stone deaf, is himself doing tremendous)? Boy, if that’s so, I need to sit down , list every last blessing, and offer a deep thanks to God for all of it. Clear my calendar!

Personally, my biggest takeaway from this past year is a deepening appreciation for the spiritual goodness that comes with creative pursuits. My spiritual life literally exploded outwards in 2015 through my recovery program, and certainly one of the more radiant dimensions of that was the creativity I pursued through photography. In 2016, I have now experienced a second wave of that through this blog, and finally finding a mechanism to get me to write regularly. I’m of course still finding my voice, and am loving in the meantime looking around for things to muse upon. Acting creatively, in whatever form and at whatever level of quality, is so utterly engaging, it leaves little room or tolerance for things that are life negating. Commit to creativity, you commit to living boldly out loud, a life lived at volume…11!

Hey! There’s my bumper sticker outlook! 2017: Volume 11!

4 thoughts on “2017: Volume 11!

  1. Matt, my brother Dan Dougherty forwarded me the link to your musings and I must say I find them to ring true. One drunk to another. 🙂 I have not read everything you’ve blogged but it would seem you were fortunate that you found sobriety relatively quickly. I was not so lucky, I struggled mightily but did find it eventually and have never regretted it for a moment. For me it was life or death and I chose life! I to smoked, but like any good addictive personality have taken up a new addiction. Running. Ran my first marathon at the ripe old age of 54 and have run 1 to 2 per year since. I’m sure you’ve figured out who I am, brother Dan probably gave it away, but really have enjoyed reading about your new life. -Tim

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    1. Hey Tim! Of course I remember you–you got me into Duke, bro! Well, you gave me my first lacrosse stick, and lacrosse got me into Duke. Partial credit? Hey, congratulations all around–on sobriety, and on becoming the marathon man! That’s great to hear. I can’t say I was at life or death, though spiritual death and the death of my self-dignity, for sure. Yes, I was lucky–no cravings, really no looking back. But shoot, I had so much going for me, it was pretty bizarre that I was just pissing it away through the bottle. Now all that goodness are my daily blessings. Just no room in my life for the stuff anymore.

      Hey, happy new year, Tim! Great reconnecting.

      Matt

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      1. Glad I could help, but if you played at Duke it was God given talent. Kind of like when you used to kick my butt at ping pong when you were half my age. As I recall your nose was just a touch higher than the height of the table.
        I do feel blessed to have found sobriety. I just celebrated 25 years on December 27th and because of how difficult it was for me to stop I guess I am a little extra appreciative. I married my HS bud and we are still together after 40 years.

        Happy New Year to you and yours and should you talk to your mom send her my regards. I always thought she was an extraordinary woman!

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