Single White Male, 2012 Edition

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. Well, let’s be honest here, I’ve been thinking about this topic for the better part of this last decade, a fact which, in itself, I am less than proud to admit. However, as the years pass, I become more and more uncomfortably aware of my bachelorhood and my inability to break free of it. And, it seems, the longer I am a bachelor the more aware everyone else seems to be of that fact as well.

In an ever increasingly connected world, where people are meeting and communicating in ways that bring strangers together more readily than they could a decade ago, or two, it’s frustrating that I can’t seem to make that one vital connection. Looking back on the years, as we tend to this time of the year, I am surprised to find myself far from where I thought I would be when I looked to my future. And, while I’m not in the habit of taking much stock in defining the present from the past, or divining the future from what has come before it, it’s a puzzle to figure out how I got here, where I’m going, and what I need to do to be where I want to be. It’s a fitting preoccupation for a time of resolutions and review.

“You just need to find a girlfriend.”
This I have heard from more than one of my friends on more than one occassion, but I find that this prescription for joy is being suggested more often as the years pass. Despite the obvious wisdom of such a profound observation, I have to wonder if any of the people uttering these words can cast their mind back to when they were single and remember when it was so simple for them.

Maybe it was, for all I know.

But, I mean, it’s just such a simplistic observation, isn’t it? Sure, just “find” a girlfriend. It couldn’t be any harder than just walking out the door and going to the girlfriend shop. Hell, maybe the women are all just waiting in the bushes outside for some unsuspecting single guy to reveal himself, like predators on the stalk or something. Maybe suggesting I need to find a girlfriend is really just a hint that I need to become aware of the absolute abundance of single, willing and wanting women that surround me like a Shah’s harem on any given afternoon. It’s like plucking an apple off a tree, right?

And, no, I’m not digressing from the theme of a new year and all that rot.

I don’t really believe in celebrating a new year, I’ve decided. I think that’s because doing so implies that there is a beginning, middle and end to something that is in fact one long path. December 31st did not spell the end of anything but a cycle on the calendar. January 1st did not spell anything but the beginning of a new cycle on that calendar. Everything else just carried on, business as usual. Celebrating the new year doesn’t press pause or stop on everything that came before it. It doesn’t close a chapter, or begin a new book. The only thing that does that is a fundamental change in the way you view your life and a change in how you determine to approach living.

That, for all that it’s not very festive, can happen any day of the year.

It’s a habit, though, with everyone around you doing so, to look back on the year(s) that have come before and think of what you want to aim for in the coming year. Whether people actually follow through on their resolutions is another matter, but I think it’s healthy that you look at where you’ve been and try and set goals to work towards. If celebrating the new year inspires people to do just that, well, that’s good too, then.

So, to close the loop, one of the things that I want to change for the new year is to make good on everyone’s suggestion to find a girlfriend. Now, I just need to figure out how one does that.

Past goals and resolutions were more measureably straight forward, if not easier to meet. I went back to school and got a diploma. I went back and finished my degree. I found and built a decent career. I continued my studies part time. I went back to the gym to get in better shape. I bought a guitar and started teaching myself how to play it (sorta.) I restructured my budget and saved more money. I read a few more books, watched a few more movies, and wrote a few more pages. Not to say I’ve been 100% faithful to my resolutions, but I think I’ve done fairly well over the last few years.

Changing your romantic life is very different from all that, though, because it isn’t a solitary endeavour. By nature, there is a whole other person involved. And, not only do you have to find that person and meet them, you need to be interesting enough for them to want to stick around for all the other stuff that comes after meeting.

It’s something I’ve never been good at, so it’s my one big resolution for the new year. I figure the level of complexity of the resolution outweighs the volume of resolutions made, right? Oh, and I’ll go to the gym one more day a week. But, I could almost say that second resolution is a subset of the first.

Sure, I plan on writing more, and reading more, and all of those things I’ve started in years gone by, but that’s not really a resolution, is it? That’s just being consistent with the resolutions I’ve kept in the past. But, keeping those resolutions has made me into a pretty decent person, despite my rampant misanthropy, cynicism and general affinity for topics and pursuits that most people find bone-rottingly boring. I just need someone to inflict myself on.

What’s the prescription for success? Online dating? Introductions from friends who already know you well enough to steer you to the right match? Sheer, stupid, blind luck? How does one date turn into two? What are the things I need to do to improve myself, if what and who I am isn’t attractive enough as it is, and do I have what it takes to make those improvements? When the champagne is done and the world goes back to living each day one at a time instead of reviewing and resolving, these are the questions I’m chewing on along with left over turkey.
So, happy new year to all those who bothered to celebrate it, and to all those boldly facing their resolutions now that the warmth and glee of those celebrations have worn off of reality. 2012 will only be as different from 2011 as you make it, and for some of us it will only be as different as we choose to make it together.

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