The Littoral Life: Progress report

By Dan Haag
The other day, my calendar told me it was my birthday. I’d inched another year precariously closer to 50. I thought I’d be grumpy and spend the day imploring everybody who dared to wished me a ‘happy birthday’ to take their cheer elsewhere.
Actually, I’m pretty pleased with my ability to grow older. Looking back at the wildlife safari that has at times been my life, I’m thrilled I got to this point with all of my fingers and toes and most of my brain cells.
I like to think that I’m aging like a fine wine, sitting on a shelf in a prestigious winery, getting better with every passing moment. Or at the very least, a boxed wine with the cardboard tab still intact.
Either way, I’m kind of hoping the best is yet to come.

That wasn’t always the case. I actively tried to find new and interesting ways to hurt myself from age 8 until my mid-30’s, usually by falling off of something or accepting a dare of some sort. As I crept towards 40, I began to notice I wasn’t healing as fast as I once did and decided that my body was trying to tell me to slow down. Or sit down. Or just stay in bed. Whatever it was, it was time to decelerate and appreciate life before it passed me by. Or killed me.
With that in mind, I decided to revisit my list of New Year’s resolutions.
As 2018 wound down, I made some promises to myself of things I wanted to accomplish this year. Resolutions made as the clock ticks towards a New Year are typically fueled by a desire to improve yourself. And likely more than a little champagne.
Most of them are forgotten by New Year’s Day because we’re busy people with busy lives and things like losing weight are just not as fun as putting it on.
But how many of us actually follow up on our promises? For me, this would be uncharted territory.
So in review, here is what I resolved for 2019. Next to each, I’ve placed a number from 1 to 10, with 10 denoting success and 1 denoting that I am completely at ease with lying to myself.
Exercise (5) – This one is kind of wash so far. I haven’t joined a gym or taken up jogging or joined a rowing team. On the other hand, I haven’t exercised any less than I previously had. In my book, it’s a draw.
Learn to play guitar (5) – Another draw, because it’s been slow going. But there is upward traction. I have started playing and, thanks to the infinite patience of John Freethy at Nehalem River Guitar Studio, the things I can play mostly sound like what I meant them to sound like. I’ve taken away points because a cease and desist order from attempting to learn “Heart Of Gold” is likely on its way from Neil Young’s lawyers.
Finish writing my novel (6) – ‘Finish’ is a strong word. I’m working on it every day. Some of the work is good, a lot of it is horrible. I’m projecting a book release party some time around my 99th birthday. But I’ve worked on it far more than my taxes and it’s been far more rewarding.
Clean out the garage (1) – This is where I fell off the cliff. If anything, the mess has gotten worse. Which is weird because I’ve largely ignored the garage and turned over its management to the spiders. I almost gave myself a zero on this resolution but remembered I found a wrench I’d been looking for in under 5 minutes, so that counts for something.
Take occasional breaks from the news (9) – Success! This was by far the easiest one to track. Honestly, I don’t even know what’s going on in the outside anymore. My head is blissfully free of pie charts, graphs and polls and the ways they tell us how terrible things are or will be soon. I made the mistake of watching a few minutes of the recent State of the Union, but turned it off to go walk the dog. And it was the best decision I ever made.