Bert’s journal: Here goes nothing

(If you’re new to Monkeytraps, Steve is a therapist who specializes in control issues, and Bert is his control-addicted inner monkey.

The following is excerpted from Bert’s recovery journal.  I’m printing it without his permission.  Don’t tell him.)

December 28, 2011

On vacation. 

In relapse. 

Monday I typed up four New Years resolutions.  Put them in a desktop folder titled “Goals 2012.”  Felt virtuous. 

Added two more goals yesterday.  That made six. 

Then went back and added subgoals, or steps, or whatever.  Then a couple of sub-subgoals.  Then sat and looked at them for a while.  Felt tired.

Today I remembered reading somewhere that a goal without a plan is just an idle wish. 

So I sat down and tried to draft a step-by-step plan for each goal that would actually enable me to reach it.

Even tried to make them SMART:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable,  Realistic, and Time-framed.   

Stopped after an hour. 

Felt nauseous in my head.

Well, in the left side of my brain anyway.  The right side wanted to go off and find a substance to abuse.  Found Twinkies.

I go through this horseshit every year.  It’s embarrassing.  The resolutions or goals or whatever are always the same (meditate more, eat less, walk daily, make more  money, take more emotional risks) , which means I’m no more likely to reach them this year than last.  

Writing the list gets harder and harder. 

Completing it feels like signing a mortgage.   

But apparently I can’t help myself.  Starting the new year without a plan feels like going outside without pants.

Goals are good, right?  Planning is necessary?  It’s smart to be SMART?

I don’t feel smart.  I feel like a moron.     


What was it Fritz said about the future?  Here:  

We imagine, we anticipate the future because we don’t want to have a future…. We fill in the gap where there should be a future with insurance policies, status quo, sameness, anything so as not to experience the possibility of openness towards the future. 

Do I dare give up this stupidass habit, this annual minuet with fear? 

Can I abstain from trying to control the future? 

Have no plans?

Abandon goals?

Surrender to openness? 

Live a day at a time?

Let life just happen?  Unfold? 

And practice being present for it? 

Like Mary Oliver:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

 Dare I resolve…nothing?

 Here goes nothing.


* * * 

Want more?

EMILY:   Good-bye, Good-bye, world.  Good-bye, Grover’s Corners…  Mama and Papa.  Good-bye to clocks ticking…and mama’s sunflowers.  And food.  And coffee.  And new-ironed dressed and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up.  Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

She looks towards the STAGE MANAGER and asks abruptly, through her tears:

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?  Every, every minute?



The saints and poets, maybe — they do some.

~ From Our Town by Th0rnton Wilder.


Watch Penelope Ann Miller deliver this monologue, and the play’s conclusion, here.



* * *

7 responses to “Bert’s journal: Here goes nothing

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