Monday, December 29, 2008

The Tyranny Of The Same Things

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers--"The Same Old You" (mp3)

My family is in a New Orleans rut. Each time we go down to visit America's greatest city, we allot ourselves about the same amount of time for the trip and find ourselves doing the same things over and over again--muffulettas and beer at the Napoleon House, shopping along Magazine Street, a movie we can't find in Chattanooga at Canal Place, coffee and croissants at Croissant D'Or.

Behind visits to places like those are my own, internal, obligatory checklists. I must have a shrimp po-boy. Check. I must enjoy the freedom of holding a beer while walking throughout the Quarter. Check. I must eat bread pudding. Check. I must hear live music. Check. I must drive randomly through Garden District streets and look at the beautiful homes I could never afford. Check.

Of course, if I could get to do all of those kinds of things a couple of times a year for the rest of my life, I'd be pretty happy about doing that. And we did stray from the beaten path a little. We drove over to Metairie to look at a school. We found the place in the Lower Ninth Ward where Brad Pitt has started a project to rebuild that area with architechurely-interesting, environmentally-sound, affordable homes. And we spent an evening with my wife's friends, who took a chance a bought a mini-condo (about the size of your kitchen) in the French Quarter and who now have a very cool place to sleep and to cook Christmas dinner when they retreat to New Orleans as often as they can.


But, yeah, we're in a rut. And this is the time of year when all of us tend to think about ruts. What patterns are we stuck in that require an examination of career, diet, exercise, goal-setting, you name it. You get the drift--it's resolution time in Tennessee!

The causes of our life ruts are not necessarily bad. Friends, conviviality, responsibility, faith--plenty of disparate forces like these can help us to stay in a holding pattern with the best of intentions. I mean, the reason I eat too many french fries is because I like to get away from work and eat lunch out with friends. I'm certainly not frying stuff up at home. And getting to enjoy friends' company at lunch always feels like a celebration, so I eat like I'm on vacation. My fault, of course.

I'm not really much of a "resolution" guy, per say. Sure, I have some internal goals that I like to try to keep track of (and usually don't). What I like about this time of year and the idea of a fresh start, but not to correct the wrongs of the past so much. More often than not, I'm thinking about what I'd like to accomplish in the coming year that I haven't done so far. Positive additions to life empower me more than shameful recriminations about what I've already done.

And, like most years at this time, the "bad guy" seems to be doing the same things again. So, I'll be looking to add something different and probably adding something that didn't even seem like a real possibility at the time when everyone was doing resolutions. This week marks the 9th month of this blog. Last year at this time, I had no idea that Billy and I would be cranking something like this up three months later. Or, that it would last.

Beware the tyranny of the same, lest it rule with an iron fist!

"The Same Old You" comes from Tom Petty's best and, most likely, overlooked cd, Long After Dark, available at Itunes.

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