At this time of year, it is inevitable that we start thinking about the past year. What went right, what went wrong and how we would have done it differently. I've spent the last few weeks doing just that. I'm not really good at resolutions. It always seems too much, too vague and too easy to back out on when the luster of fresh willpower has worn off.
I know I need to lose some more pounds. I know that I need to stop mindlessly eating when I'm bored. And, it wouldn't kill me to try and stay calm when technology decides to take a break or die all together. But, I've been thinking about something bigger, something more insidious this year.
I have a tendency to really beat myself up when I make a mistake. Not just for a little while, but for protracted and painfully long periods of time. Nothing, it seems, can shake the recriminations out of my head. Sometimes, it can be a mundane mistake, something of seemingly little consequence that I build up in my head to be epic and awful. But, more often than not, it is something bigger than a simple misstep that takes the wind out of my sails.
It often involves me screwing up something I care about, or screwing up with someone I care about. And, it is always, always, always something that I can't change, without a time machine or Superman turning the world back. The frustration of those fact mixes with my feelings of stupidity and I can spend days being eaten alive by my mistake.
It accomplished nothing, except to get me to vow to never, ever, ever in a million years screw up again. Of course, as I am not perfect, this vow doesn't last too long. Then the process repeats itself. It takes up so much time and energy. If I could have that time back, I could write a million stories. If I could have that energy back, I could run a thousand marathons (or some physical activity I could actually complete.) But, instead, it just keeps taking everything I give it and grows bigger and stronger.
This phenomenon is also true of things that annoy me, drive me crazy, but are also out of my control. People in front of me in traffic moving so slowly. The folks in my neighborhood who put out their recycle bins in the middle of a windstorm, not caring that their garbage will then make its way into my lawn. People in general, who just don't seem to give a damn about their impact on other people. These situations take up so much of my energy too, and I'm sick and tired of letting little things like this drive me to such distraction.
While I was thinking about these issues, the movie Little Shop of Horrors popped into my head. Audrey Two seems the perfect metaphor for this problem I have. Being impossibly hard on myself needs constant feeding or it will die. And, it wants my blood, sweat and tears to keep it alive. My negative thoughts about others needs the same thing. They can't annoy me if I don't give it my energy, and I allow them to bedevil me much more than they should. I feed it, so ultimately, I am responsible.
So, in 2011, I am going to let my Audrey Two die. I'm going to stop feeding the blood-sucking plant that lives in my brain that wants me to kill Steve Martin. (I know I'm going a long way for this metaphor, but stay with me, I'm bringing it home)
I want to stop giving all my power away to things I can't change. I want to stop torturing myself, in order to teach myself a lesson. I keep thinking if I suffer enough, one day I'll be perfect and all will be well. But, it's not true. It will never happen. So, to that end, the cycle needs to be broken. And, my metaphorical Audrey Two must perish. And, no fancy songs about feeding it will make me give in any more. So to speak.
In 2011, I want to free myself from this burden, to let myself off the hook a little bit more. And, to spare myself the hours spent in wallow mode, trying to undo the past. I thought a little tangible reminder was in order, so enjoy the following video.