READ ME ... yeah, right. Right?

I'm sick of everyone else having on-line diaries. I want one too.

What is this all about? Maybe you should read the READ ME READ ME.

december 31, 1998:
RESOLVED: Acceptance

There is no better cure for the Holiday Blahs than a good list of healthy New Year's Resolutions. But this year my resolution-writing-progress was not going as planned.

So when my friend Marcus called, beckoning me for a late night drink at Zeitgeist, I embraced the opportunity to seek advice on the issue.

"I used to know how to take care of myself," I complained, sipping a mudslide and trying not to cry.

"Nine years ago, for example, I cured myself with resolutions."

I was a senior at Stanford at the time, I explained, with good friends and great grades, a suntan, a future, and an eight-minute mile. But I was incorrigibly unhappy from morning through night. Although all should have been fine, one problem consumed me: a less-than-expected score on the damn LSAT. All I wanted at the time, as laughable as it seems in hindsight, was to get into Harvard Law. Without a perfect LSAT score, I had convinced myself, my chances were slim. I was miserable.

I had dedicated that entire autumn to my singular goal, and had spent a dark, dreary semester hitting the books and painstakingly filling out application forms. My friends would go out to parties; I would stay in and work. The '89 earthquake shook campus, lessening our school loads; I made up the lost time holed away in the corners of the only library that survived intact the 7.3 blow. So sure of what I wanted, and committed to get it, I had tossed away four months at age 21. Disconsolate and depressed, I had then let a (fine to all but me) test score destroy my vision and steal my hope.

Then came New Year's Eve, 1989, when I finally caught on. I listed my resolutions: to drink more; to smoke. To buy a car; to go dancing. To go to a law school that was not Harvard, and be fine with that. To like myself again. In short, to Be Happy.

Upon returning to Stanford, I bought my first car. I went to parties; I smoked; I scammed; I drank. I laughed and danced; I was happy. When my acceptance letter from Harvard arrived on January 9, my joy was real, but incremental: I had already gained acceptance from a far more selective source - - myself. I was fine.

But this year, it seemed, I did not know what to do. Unlike 9 years ago, what I wanted was less specific and more obtainable. Things seemed to be going well. Still, I was not happy - - and what troubled me most, as far as I could tell, was that I had lost faith in my ability to see myself through.

"It's harder this year," I sighed. "Honestly, I just don't know what to do."

"I bet you still know how to take care of yourself," consoled Marcus, who made about as much sense in my life as anything else, and didn't really know what else to say. "You still know what to do."

"Do I?" I asked, and I put down my drink. Something was gelling: I must treat myself better.

I don't need to smoke more now; I need to smoke less. Spend more time sleeping, get outside, take a run. Treating the external can heal what is within. In my quest to resolve to be happy, I had forgotten my health.

And without my best health, how could I see clearly?

Bartime was approaching, my clarity not far behind. I reached for my datebook to see when I would next be free. But when I opened it, what struck me instead was when I would be busy.

Earlier that day, not thinking about resolutions, I had scheduled three medical check-ups that were months overdue.

Not only had I all along known what to do, but also, amazingly, I had already started.


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