A Better Man / A Better City : A New Year’s Resolve

Jan 4, 2011 by

Rex's Fleur de Lis

Everybody Radiates Sunshine on the Soul

The eternal optimist in me was looking forward to the New Year.  This past year has treated me decently enough, but the ending has been so out of control, that I couldn’t wait to see it pass.  As New Orleanians, we’ve had the fine opportunity to experience tragedies and miseries that would make even a saint second-guess the grand design.  For me, the year ended with a painful revelation that was long overdue.

You see folks, sometimes I feel like I’m suffering from an existential crisis, but I think that’s an easy diagnosis living in a city so beautiful and yet also in so much upheaval.  There are people in this world content with a nine to five coupled with a prime time t.v. afterlife, but I don’t reckon they make a great percentage of our citizenry.  New Orleans is a city of artists; whether we’re crafting a song, painting a scene, cooking a meal or delivering a mule cart full of shit in a courtroom.  We are a dynamic people, no matter how you spin the story or we’ve proven it with our resilience through good times and bad.

There is no shame in New Orleans to say you celebrate both felicity and misery, as they are twin mistresses who court you just the same.  My regret over the past year is that I have let my fears guide my life and I have let misery be my wife.  Now, it’s been a successful year on many accounts, but that doesn’t mean I’ve let it be a happy one.

In reflection, I’ve been beating myself up for a long time and it’s progressively gotten worse.  You wouldn’t know it by talking to me because I’ve gotten good at professing hope, fearlessness, change and everything 504.  The problem is that in all my talk of better worlds and better people I haven’t been able to exercise the same will that exists in my rhetoric.  I believe what I say, but I’m not living it and I haven’t been for quite some time.

For most of this year, it seems we’ve been bombarded with crime after oil spill after crime: et cetera ad nauseum.  It’s been a great year for me to rabble rouse and, as Mark Folse says, be “great agitator.”  I believe in the causes I get behind because they have a profound affect on my friends, my city and me.  However, I have beaten myself up over ideas, solutions, and the daily barrage of stories I filter though on any given day.  I beat myself up and pass the stories on; I beat myself up and write fourteen page rants I never publish; I beat myself up and rip canvases apart rather than paint what is inside.

Thus, I was angry.  I was angry over the things I lost in Katrina.  I was angry over the murder of friends and acquaintances and the deficiencies of our legal and justice system.  I was angry about where I let myself get in life when I feel that there are greater things meant for me to accomplish.  In so indulging in such infinite self-criticism, I’ve pushed people away who love me for what I do and who I try to be.  The fear of achieving what’s next in life paralyzed me and I uncharacteristically never ventured to try for what that next step might be thinking it was better to run away. I ran because it was easier than seeing what the future could hold and easier than rising up to the occasion of committing to something.

In the end, I have fallen short of who I hoped to be.  I have spent the better part of the past year in a lethargic, defeatist spiral that I let get the better part of me.  Though I had some help at feeding these perceived inadequacies from ghosts of my past and the delusions of the present, they are by no means the measure of who I am.  Weak, misguided and foolish I may have been this year thinking that I had solutions to fix this city, that I had means to fix the many broken souls around me, or that I had a means to fix my own broken self.

Now we have 2011 in its entire splendor, offering the same promise of years past when they are fresh and new.  I’d like to say that with the birth of the year comes the death of my anger, the end of my anxiety and the calming of my turmoil; but it’s not a task easily done alone.  Such lofty resolutions often fall short after so much time has passed and I will have to seek the help to change that.  I want to be free of the voices that say I’m not good enough and by freeing myself of these emotional chains that bind me to the failure I feel inside, I can be a better man.

And, I believe that if I can be a better man, we can have a better city.  It’s in each one of us to decide this and by each one of us being a better person, we can have a better city…and live a better life and feel a greater perpetuity in our community.  It’s up to each one of us to lay down our swords of discontent and plant seeds of a better tomorrow.  It’s up to each one of us to slay our personal demons and give rise to our better self.  Its up to each one of us to admit our sins and faults and move forward not as cowards, but as the fearless individual we each have the power to be.

I need to be such a person or I will destroy myself, regardless of how many words of hope I utter.  I need to rid myself of fear in order to be complete.  I need to be strong in order to be the source of inspiration that I must have for myself in order to carry on.  I need to lay down my burden and not take up another’s.  But, most of all, I need to be my brother’s keeper, my child’s guide, my lover’s friend and my neighbor’s watchman.

A better person equals a better city.  A healthier person equals a healthier city.  Who will you choose to be?  Which direction will you let yourself travel?  What will you let happen to that around you?  When will be the time that you stand up and dare to change that which needs to change?  And if you haven’t already, why haven’t you started?  We need a healthier city for our great culture to thrive and continue.  Won’t you be a part of the change that you wish to see?  I’ll do my best… if you do yours…

Happy New Year!

Rex

http://www.rexdingler.com/

http://www.nolarising.org/

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