[Picture: Fuck Yeah! 1920s]
I’ve been mulling over some 2013 resolutions since, well, New Year, but it’s taken me this long to put my thoughts in some kind of order. It’s important to think about these things, right? Who wants to commit to a year of trying to do something without thinking it through thoroughly first?
This is a bit of a no-brainer because I have a lot of travel coming up in 2013, in the form of a three-month sabbatical dedicated to doing just that. Still, what I want to make sure I do more of is travel that challenges me. I’m supremely lucky to travel a lot with work and although I spent a long time when I was younger doing the backpacking/Greyhounding thing, these days I’m more of a lazy beggar.
So, this batch of travelling is going to be challenging and freak me out at times and probably not involve lists. Although there is a Google map and calendar, so that eases some of the terror.
Required reading: The idea of travel as a search for something – hmm, bit deep but some interesting thoughts in this NY Times piece. Reclaiming Travel by Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison.
2. Listen to more albums
This probably sounds pretty dumb, but I’m a big fan of the shuffle button and I have a really short attention span. The result is that I never really listen to albums all the way through any more. Albums are made to be listened to in order – that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? I remember when I was at college taking my Discman to our all-day life-drawing classes with a wallet of CDs and listening to whole albums from start to finish. As I drew a naked man.
The result of all this was not just some pretty epic takes on what a nude dude looked like, but also that weird sensation where if you ever listened to one of those tracks out of order or heard it in a different context, you still just imagined the intro to what you knew came next in your head.
These days most of my music comes in the form of random tracks that I feel like listening to that moment on Spotify, or carefully curated playlists – which are a wonderful thing and artfully woven together for the perfect order. But not the order which the band slogged over and thought about meticulously.
This year I want to make myself listen to more albums from start to finish, preferably when I’m on the train or something rather than as background music at work. Concentrate. Also – new albums. I am shit with new music for the most part, so that’s something to work on.
Required reading: This New Yorker piece is kind of down on Spotify at times – and I’m all for it, really – but it still make some useful points. Spotify and its Discontents by Mike Spies.
3. Work out harder
Iso wrote a really good blog about women and strength (and cycling) here and it resonated nicely with something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently too. Going to the gym to get in shape is obviously something that’s important to me (and it works! Who knew?) but what’s increasingly driving me is a desire to be fit and strong.
I’m sure a lot of people see a disconnect between that and the gym – I think typical ‘strength’ exercise should be outdoorsy stuff like walking, cycling, river-swimming, climbing mountains… that kind of thing. Unfortunately it’s hard for me to fit that good stuff in around my work and all the rest of the crap that has to fit in life, so working out at the gym will have to do for now – topped up with the odd trek over a cliff in Whitby or rainy session at Charlton Lido.
It’s very easy to fall into a routine at the gym of just doing stuff that you can do and that you can do easily, so this year I want to make sure that I’m sweating and trembling and possibly even crying every time I leave – rather than just cycling and watching Daria.
Required reading: He gets a bit evangelical at times, I know, but this classic essay by papa Henry Rollins is all about strength and the zen-like state that a good workout can bring. The Iron by Henry Rollins.
4. Learn more
I read a hell of a lot, I’m pretty good at getting myself to exhibitions on a regular basis and I watch more BBC4 documentaries than is probably sexually appealing. But I still don’t always feel like I’m learning very much.
This year I want to expose myself to more active learning, rather than the passive art of sitting on the sofa watching something you find really interesting while also eating dinner/tweeting/googling that guy off the telly.
Same goes for reading – it’s hard to really give it your all when you’re standing on the train to work listening to some playlist or other as well. Even museums can be a struggle when you’re a passive-aggressive weirdo like me – why isn’t everyone in the gallery silent? Why is there a baby in here? WHY ARE YOU STANDING IN FRONT OF ME? And so it goes.
For 2013 I’m going to work harder at concentrating more on the above, but also learn in a more pro-active way by attending lectures, screenings and discussion-style events where you’re forced to sit quietly, concentrate and not arse around on your phone.
First step, I am Dora at the ICA. Which was great and where I sat and concentrated and learnt and enjoyed myself. More to come.
Required reading: Everything I can get my hands on.