In trying to get my professional shit together, at the age of 35 which is kind of hilarious/pathetic, I’ve been doing a lot of looking at what I tend to write about here. Besides John Kerry and the cock jokes, I mean. And between the journalism and the politics I realize what I write about most is the fact that we are better than we almost always think we are. Kinder, more generous, with an almost fathomless capacity for work and fierce tenacity when something matters to us.
And I write about that when I see us underestimating ourselves. Giving up when we don’t have to. Moaning about a problem instead of fixing it. Making up a small problem to fix instead of tackling the big one that’s real. Saying that something’s politically unfeasible as if that’s, you know, a real thing. Talking about how there’s not enough money to run a paper decently when there completely, completely is. Running into a wall and pretending that’s a reason to stop when there is a perfectly good ladder just laying there.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to make me crazy nuts, it’s that tendency, and sometimes I think I would be a happier person if I didn’t know we were better than that, if I didn’t see what happens when we stop giving ourselves excuses. When we’re called on to be extraordinary, when we’re able to clarify just what it is we want and go after it with the kind of focus that requires us to overcome all the ways in which we tend to give ourselves an out.
And so if I have a New Year’s Resolution at all, beyond the usual “stop eating so much junk food whether Mr. A buys it or not” and “quit being a pussy and go to the dentist like a grownup” stuff I resolve to do every year and fall down on by March, it’s this: Quit listening to the voice in my head, always louder this time of year, that says it’s impossible, it’s somebody else’s job, I’m tired, I’m done, I’ve done enough, it’s over anyway, can’t change a thing.
Because we have this phenomenal capacity, and the worst thing isn’t that that voice is always right. It’s that it might be wrong, and I listened to it anyway.