New Year

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I am growing tired of the plethora of articles elucidating the 3, 5, 10 easy steps to getting yourself smarter, better, stronger, faster, more organized, richer, happier… Sure,  given the hackneyed New Years resolution rituals we engage in, it is understandable.  But really, given all the news stories indicating we will all fail on these resolutions I am not sure why anyone feels compelled to write about it.

I have come to a realization recently.  The one thing I try to do (and it is not a resolution) is to spend 20 minutes early in the day reading poetry.  Yep… I said it…   POETRY.  There could not be a more useless activity to engage in.  It is like an anti-resolution.   Sure it is an activity, but it is not a list packed with all of the frenetic anxiety of hurrying to get something done.

Why do I do this?   It acts like a physical exam for me.  It makes me slow down, and pay attention to things I routinely overlook.  I know my state of mind immediately.

One of the other utilitarian benefits is that it makes me think in analogies and similes.  Being able to use these in interactions with others has proven to be one of the most powerful communication tools available and it exercises my imagination which is the only way I have successfully solved any problem.

I am not suggesting to anyone that they go out and buy an anthology of poetry. I am sure that most are as sick of being told what to do at this time of year as I am.  But if it makes you curious,  go to the library and check out this book ; I never liked poetry until I read it.  Want to dive right in? Try this which should, if you are healthy, make you laugh. Or, if you want something to think about, this  he like (T.S. Eliot) was a business executive, living in the real world in addition to being a poet laureate.

When I am trying to gather my thoughts and plans for the new year this is the poem I read.  It helps me focus on the why more than the what.

THE GOLDFISH FLOATS TO THE TOP OF HIS LIFE
by Ted Kooser

The goldfish floats to the top of his life
and turns over, a shaving from somebody’s hobby.
So it is that men die at the whims of great companies,
their neckties pulling them slumped in the shower,
their hearts blown open like boiler doors.
In the night, again and again these men float
to the tops of their dreams to drift back
to their desks in the morning.  If you ask them,
they would prefer to have died in their sleep.

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Dan Clark

Dan Clark

Principal of Bowline Consulting, process designer/fixer, wireless telecom veteran, addicted pick up soccer player, fly fisher, backpacker, beer brewer, guitar player, choir singer, recovering bag piper

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