As the year draws to a close, I’m gearing up to set my annual intentions. I prefer intentions to goals, as they seem more flexible — if I fall somewhat short of the mark, as we are all wont to do from time to time, I don’t judge myself as harshly as I would if I don’t achieve a goal. As I contemplate the New Year, and begin to visualize serenity, joy, freedom and happiness, I’m thinking about the meaning of these now – and a year from now — in the hope of positioning myself on the right path for 2016.

As you know, I would rather think about fictional characters who speak to my soul rather than real, cacophonous people. So, I’m manifesting the wisdom of Karen Marie Moning’s Jericho Barrons to help chart my 2016 course. Specifically, I’m contemplating the most profound thing Barrons ever said: “There’s nothing I can’t live with. Only things I won’t live without.” (Shadowfever). ) I’ve thought about this concept a lot. What does it mean? Could I be more content if I reoriented my thinking along the lines he suggests?  I suspect so. Should such a reorientation become part of my intentions for the New Year?  Probably.

I’ve always been a ‘can’t live with it’ kind of girl. My prohibition list is long. I hate mint can’t handle the taste or even the smell. I can’t abide the aroma of bananas or cigarette smoke. I need complete privacy to shower in hotel rooms, even if the bathroom door locks. I can’t handle random noises, like when my son starts to hum or whistle. I forbid reality TV in my house, as well as Fox News. I can’t handle mess— it messes with my OCD. I can’t live with being ignored or dismissed. I can’t handle being wrong—so I’m a slave to my need to be right over all other values. I can’t live with my brother or his wife being in the same time zone. I can’t live with complacency, mediocrity, stupidity, intolerance, homophobia, pedophilia, bullies and queen bees. I can’t live with hypocrites and hypocrisy. Etc., etc., etc.

Contrast the above with what Jericho Barrons said-there’s nothing he can’t live with. Sounds a lot simpler than my life. And simple is good, I know this for a fact. And because there’s nothing he can’t live with, his equanimity is rarely destabilized. Which contrasts with my near constant teetering on the brink of insanity.  Everything I can’t live with exists on my last nerve. And then, as my children remind me, my nerves will be shot, sending me over the edge.  Seems to me there’s a lot Jericho Barrons could teach me. 

So let me catalogue the items I can’t live without:  my husband and my children; my friends; food and shelter. I think that’s it. It’s a much shorter list. A much simpler list. A list that streamlines life and distills it down to its essential elements.  What would it be like to live with a focus only on what I can’t live without? To live with the—relatively minor, more of an inconvenience really—discomfort of tolerating that which previously I believed was completely unacceptable? Would such a reorientation set me more firmly on the road to serenity, joy, freedom and happiness?  Maybe so. But that is a big ask. And I’m not sure I have any idea how to do it.

I’m equally whether Barrons provides much in the way of guidance for living life on his terms. He just does it. And, of course, he’s had millennia to work on his technique, as compared to my paltry five decades. But I’ve got to try. Because living with a focus on what I can’t live with isn’t getting me where I want to be. Maybe it’s time to reread the Fever series. There’s a new installment coming out in January—Hallelujah!—so it’s probably time to refresh my memory of all the wise philosophy embodied in those remarkable books.

So, as I contemplate my New Year’s intentions, I will look to the truths I find in my beloved fantasy books, and seek help with living in reality from my fictional friends. My books never fail me, and I’m confident I’ll find what I seek. I intend to look closely.

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