I got an email, on Christmas day, telling me that my "This I believe" essay wasn't chosen to be read on NPR, but will be placed on the website instead.
The email went on, "Please don’t consider this in any way a "rejection." Our criteria for broadcast consider many factors beyond subjective notions of quality. We air only a fraction of one percent of those submitted, and we must balance our few selections across themes, perspectives, diversity of sources, and so on."
A fraction of one percent? I'm not sure I believe that, and despite the email's best intentions, I still feel rejected.
Here's the thing, though, about my essay: it's too preachy (they specifically ask for no preaching) and I don't like the ending. I mean, I wrote it in seven minutes, so maybe if I'd tried a little harder, followed the rules and gone through it at least once with a red pen, I might have had more of a chance....
Which brings me to the subject of goals.
Athletic goals almost always end badly for me. I lose interest halfway there, or I get distracted, or I can't take the pain and repeated failure that comes with trying really hard. I'm embarassed to say this, because I live in a world where athletic achievements are paramount and much else falls away unnoticed, but I'm hardpressed to think of a single sports-related goal I've achieved in the past few years. Oh, who am I kidding? I have barely done a damn thing in the past few years - the flux and buck of life proving almost too much for me to bear, having struggled, most mornings, just to get out of bed.
So I think I need something else. While part of me is inclined to say, "My goal is to climb the orange 12a at the gym," I know that as soon as I declare it, I'll lose interest.
Also, I give up when it gets hard. I tend to choose the easy path. I don't see stuff through. This post is beginning to seem like a reverse online dating ad. "Lazy woman with untrained dog looking for..."
Just kidding. We all know that Arnie is very well trained. Not by ME, of course, but trained nonetheless.
But it's easy to make athletic goals, because sports - as much as I love the things I do - aren't what I hold most dear, and if I fail at them, well, hell, "it's just a game."
But to fail at writing or playing the guitar or being a mom to Arnie or finishing the New Yorker in the alloted week (harder than you'd think)....that would hurt. That would mean I've failed at the things that matter most, and that's a whole other kind of disappointment.
That's why I didn't want to post the link to my essay - I'm afraid to open that part of my life to public scrutiny. People can say I'm a lousy skier or climber or runner or whatever (I also totally suck at dodgeball), and sure, it hurts, but none of those sustain me from the inside when all else falls away, and none of those allow me to meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.
So my goals, to be truly worth something, to be harder to just blow off, need to be real and honest and deal with the things I'll never let go.
You heard it here first, my goals for 2009 are as follows:
1. Play the guitar. PLAY. Not strum and hum along, but really play, really make it sing.
2. Read The New Yorker, The Smithsonian, Nat'l Geo and The Sun by the time the next issues arrive. No more leaning tower of periodicals on my nightstand (aka, an upside down Thai laundry basket).
3. Get writing published. In print, not just online. This involves the bigger goal of facing fear of rejection, potentially again and again and again.
4. Remain motivated at work. I love my new job. I'm excited about work in a way I haven't been for years, and I want to hold on to that.
There's one more, but I'll tell you about that another time. Right now, I'm going to finish reading this article, which references a place near my childhood home, a place I'd love to make my home someday. If they stop mining. And if they grow bigger mountains so Brad would come with me.