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Voice: Taking life as it comes

January 10, 2001

When I was young, I lived a carefully structured life. Each year at the end of December, I planned for the year ahead. I set goals and deadlines.

I had plans for each five-year segment of my life.

But no matter how carefully I planned, some unforeseen circumstance arose to cast my plans awry.

After I had my first cancer surgery, I stopped thinking of having a year — much less five years — in which to accomplish my goals.

As I neared my 80th milestone (really a millstone, if I would let it be) I stopped making lists of things I planned to do and started doing them.

For more years than I care to remember my News Year's resolutions were top heavy with (1) lose 10 (or 20 or 30) pounds (2) Stop procrastinating.

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I finally lost one-third of my body weight, not through dieting but through illness, so that resolution no longer heads my list.

I'm sure I would have stopped procrastinating if I had ever gotten around to reading the book I bought 20 years ago on "How to Stop Procrastinating."

This year my only resolution, my only plan of action, will be to "go with the flow."

Not that I can go very far in my wheelchair.

I've learned, the hard way that no one can make us happy. Our joy must come from within. So my second resolution will be "create happiness for yourself."

To this end I am continuing my lifelong quest for learning. I am continuing writing essays to submit to the I.V. Press as letters to the editor. I am continuing writing short short stories for publication in "little" (non-commercial) magazines.

I plan to resume learning to cartoon. I'll never do it as well as Margaret Silva-Chairez, but maybe I can do it as well as Thurber. Maybe not, but I'll have fun trying.

And I'll read. I've dozens of mysteries sent to me by a friend in Georgia. (Her recently deceased husband's library is now mine.)

And I'll continue my monthly treasure hunting safaris at The Salvation Army store, adding more weird-looking stuffed toys to use as prototypes of characters in my children's stories.

The one thing I don't look forward to is learning to use my word processor. I make 17 mistakes a minute in typing. But if God will grant me time enough, I'll learn, I hope.

Life is what we make it — not year by year but minute by minute. Take care of the minutes and the years will take care of themselves.

Happy new year, everyone.

MERRY HARRIS

Ocotillo

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