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From the Sidelines – It’s a new year. What now?

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At this time last year, I made a few half-hearted resolutions (if you want to call them that). They were more like little goals to be worked on and maybe even achieved if I ever got around to “working” on them. For the most part, I did sort of…OK.

I am a mere mortal after all, and despite my best efforts, sometimes I fall short of reaching the very top of whatev

er hill or mountain I happen to be climbing (metaphorically speaking, of course) on any given day.

Having said that, I feel I accomplished most of what I set out to do. In some cases, I even pushed myself to do more than what I had originally agreed. I did it to push myself to a higher level of understanding, of consciousness, of appreciation for…whatever it was I was working on. So, I’m all right with what I did in 2009.

Now, it is on to 2010.

This year (like most previous years) I plan to work on self-improvement, first and foremost (Sure you do). I will adhere to whatever dietary regimen I set for myself (No you won’t). I will exercise regularly (You will not). I will plan ahead, follow through and be prepared for whatever curveball life throws my way (Ah…yeah right. No you won’t). I will be super sweet to my wife and kids every single day of the year (Who are you kidding?). I will be the best husband, father… (Seriously, who are you trying to kid?).

(Big sigh) Whew! Let me try this again.

The truth is, I have forgotten half of what I said I would work on last year. Sure, I could pull up whatever I wrote at this time last year, but it would only disappoint me. It would remind me of all the things I never get around to because I am too busy trying to do what needs to be done “right now.”

One of the saddest things I realized I neglected to do, two days before the New Year was here, was to paint. I had bought myself new acrylic paints, paint brushes and canvases (two smaller 16”x20” canvases and a big 6’x4’) for Christmas last year and had expected to paint and continue painting through out the year, but I had not touched any of it.

I could not believe the art supplies and canvases had sat in the same corner of the house for an entire year! Let me take that back. I could believe the stuff sat there for a year, what I could not believe was that I had succeeded in suppressing an undeniable urge to paint for a whole year. (It really has been about three years since I have endeavored to create something big, something great, really just anything outside of helping my children with certain creative school projects).

Well, all that ended a few days ago when I, determined to keep myself from failing to accomplish at least one of my 2009 goals, decided I needed to paint.

I told myself I was going to paint in 2009 and – being a man of my word and not wanting to let myself down (again?) – I did what I said I would do. I painted in 2009.

Oh, yes I did. On Dec. 30, 2009, I took out the big canvas, pulled out the new tubes of paint, found a trusty old brush and began to paint.

I did not waste any time looking for a palette. I squeezed the paint right onto the canvas and worked it in with the brush. It was exhilarating!

“Why hadn’t I done this before?” I thought to myself. “You mean to tell me I could have been feeling this alive, this creative, this blessed, this happy, this… same exhilaration all year long?”

I began to paint shortly after the 10 p.m. news ended and continued on for at least two and a half hours. It was amazing how the painting process unfolded seamlessly. “Like riding a bike,” I thought.”

I painted a large portrait of my parents. I used an old photo of my mother and father as they reluctantly posed for a “day in the life” picture I cherish to this day.

My father, sitting at the edge of the bed, his shoulders and forehead a stark, pale pink, his forearms, hands, neck, ears, nose, cheeks and chin, charred brown by the unforgiving sun, sat like a tired, slumped, bag of potatoes teetering on the edge of a table, looking straight through me.

My mother, smiling sweetly with sleepy eyes lay resigned behind my father in her light blue sundress, spent. In the picture, they are in an upstairs bedroom at the end of another long day of hard work. The window, half opened let the summer breeze ease in, caressing the bottom of the thin, transparent drapes as my parents enjoyed each other’s company.

I love that picture. I reminds of all the hard work my parents had to endure so that their children had access to greater opportunities through education. It reminds me of how hard my wife and I have to work to ensure that our children surpass our level of higher education.

It is a crystal clear reminder that everything we do, year after year, is for the benefit of others, especially our children and their happiness and well being.

It is a reminder that no matter how hard we may think we have it, our parents had it harder, and they made it through with a fraction of our compensation and, more impressive than that, they made with a minimal amount of complaints.

As I mentioned earlier, my father died three years ago. My mother, thank God, is still with us, despite her diabetes. I let her know, as often as I remember to do so, that she did and continues do an outstanding job as a parent. I truly believe it is their example as hard working, positive role models that keep us going forward year in and year out.

I know I certainly take the precious gift of life more seriously now.
So, with a greater respect for my own mortality and in honor of my father’s passing, for the love of my mother, for the sake of my inner tortured artist’s creative sanity and, most importantly, for the sake of my wife and children’s well being, I pledge to start painting, manically (and hopefully, for the rest of my life) in 2010.

Happy New Year y Prospero 2010.
agarza@post-register.com

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