Goals? Chasing the ghosts of attaining life satisfaction

New Year’s Eve.

I considered writing about my thoughts on New Year’s resolutions and goals, but after reading my earlier posts of Goals for 2013? None! and No Goals for 2014, I really have little to add to them.

I’m not one who is about chasing goals in order to feel accomplished or wealthy or happy.  GOALS to me are Ghosts Of Attaining Life Satisfaction; ethereal and imaginary states that declare that I won’t be happy or whatever state I think I lack unless I accomplish these things.  The problem is that once a goal is achieved (or another New Year’s Eve arrives) it is imperative to set another goal, in order to achieve happiness or achieve whatever state that you think that you are not.  It’s a never-ending cycle of lack seeking fulfillment.  A haunting of the hungry ghosts of Tibetan Buddhism, whose mouths are button-hole small and stomachs the size of the largest elephant.

For me, 2014 was probably a year much like everyone else; there were highs and lows, fun and challenges.  We bought a house, I had a client removed from the sex offender registry, we vacationed in New York City.  My mother-in-law passed and I was in my first car accident.  Your highlights and low-lights will be different.  In my opinion, setting goals remove happiness and instead create a sense of anxiety that I need to achieve this or that otherwise I will be a failure and unhappy.

Do I want to finish the novel I’m working on in 2015?  Do I want my bowling average to improve?  Of course.  But I’m not willing to sacrifice the present moment for them.

Is life perfect?  Do I know my future?  No.  But am I happy despite it all?  Yes.  Happiness is not an achievement; it’s the process.

May your 2015 be happy.

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The memory of the moment

I like photography.  Capturing the memory of the moment.  It could be amusing sights around the house…

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or the treasures from a vacation…
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or the loud enthusiasm of friends.
DSC04898Detroit City FC Supporters march to the stadium.  Photo by Michael Kitchen.

Detroit City FC Supporters march to the stadium. Photo by Michael Kitchen.

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There is one category that, in 2014, I took a hiatus from.  Events.  At special events I would take my camera, particularly if there were authors or other artists around.

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In 2014, I attended these events and left the camera at home:

-Michigan Sports Hall of Fame induction of Alexi Lalas
-Bill Ayers at Source Books in Detroit
-Brigid Pasulka at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor
-Voices of the Midwest event in Ann Arbor
-Zell Distinguished Visiting Writer – Jane Smiley in Ann Arbor
-Motor City Comic Con
-Detroit Working Writers conference
-Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair
-Metro Detroit Book and Author Luncheon, May, 2014
-Lolita Hernandez book launch in Detroit
-Marie Mason Prison Work Art Exhibit in Detroit
-Ann Arbor Book Festival
-US vs Belgium Watch Party in Campus Martius, Detroit
-Ann Arbor Art Fair
-Author readings hosted by Kelly Fordon
-Northern Guard Supporters’ Books & Breakfast gathering at John King Books in Detroit
-Kathleen Ripley Leo book signing in Northville
-Books on the Banks book festival in Cincinnati, OH
-Metro Detroit Book and Author Luncheon, October, 2014
-National Writers Series featuring Rita Mae Brown in Traverse City, MI
-Tom Daldin book signing at Paperback Writer Books in Mount Clemens, MI
-Emily Rose book signing at Paperback Writer Books in Mount Clemens, MI

Was it worth leaving the camera home?

Without the camera, I was more present at these events.  There were no concerns about seating and whether the lighting in the building would be good enough to shoot without a flash.  My mind was not divided between the content of the event and the image on the digital camera screen.  There wasn’t the awkwardness of holding the camera while awaiting its use and of asking the person who was the center of attention to pose.  I found it liberating.

However, those moments are now committed only to images in my memory; that limited space where decades of moments have been forever lost, unable to recover even when reminded by others who were there.  Photos give life to those favorable memories.  If a photo is worth a thousand words, then in 2014 I left behind a four-hundred page epic of images.

I’ve found that even though I was released of the burden of carrying the camera, the loss of captured images – the memories of the moment – is far too great.

The King retires

When it came to following sports, soccer, for a long period of time, was not my favorite.  Hockey, especially living in Metro Detroit and our proximity to Canada, with Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night, was my original spectator sport.  Then the summer would dry out the champagne that had showered the Stanley Cup with a drought of the dull games of baseball and golf, until the North American Soccer League granted a franchise to Detroit.  The Detroit Express played at the Silverdome, and the magical skills of the man dubbed, “The Wizard” – Trevor Francis – lured me into an appreciation of the beautiful game.  No sooner was I attached to soccer it disappeared for almost as long as it took me to discover it.  If you’re a younger person reading this, we didn’t have the internet back then, or multi-channel cable or dish services.

In 1999, while on a family vacation to our nation’s capital, the spark was lit.  A friend living there took my son and I to a DC United match.  It took about five minutes for the gene that lie dormant within me to activate.  Soon, I was following Major League Soccer and discovered the Fox Soccer Channel and its coverage of the English Premiere League.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when it was, but there was a point in the early part of this century when the Arsenal Gunners became my English Premiere League team.  And it was because of Thierry Henry.

Henry was a scoring machine.  It reminded me of the way Trevor Francis had come over to America and dominated the Silverdome turf.  But Henry owned Highbury, and the rest of the teams’ pitches in one of the top leagues in the world.  He had pace, he controlled the ball well, and had a sense of where his teammates were to deliver quality passes, setting up goals as well.  There was a quiet flair about him that would burst forth with amazing plays and goals.  Then came The Invincibles.  In the 2003-04 season, Henry scored 30 goals as the Gunners went the full English Premiere League season undefeated, with a 26 win, 12 draw, 0 loss record, the only team to do so since Preston North End’s 18-4-0 invincible season of 1888-89.

After eight seasons and 226 goals in all competitions with the Gunners, Henry went to Spain to play three seasons with Barcelona, from 2007-2010.  Then, in the summer of 2010, he arrived on America’s shore, as a member of the New York Red Bulls.  Past his prime, but still a master of the art of football, Henry tallied 51 goals in 122 games with the Red Bulls.

April 7, 2012 was my first opportunity to see Henry live.  The Red Bulls were in Columbus to play the Crew – my Major League Soccer team.  My loyalties were divided.  I wanted Columbus to win by a score of 4-3 so that I could enjoy a Thierry Henry hat trick.  Giddiness hid behind my mature veneer as  I shot photos during the warm-ups.  I couldn’t help sharing the excitement with others who were taking photos, and having their friends/family take photos of them with Henry in the background, excited about the presence of the man with the world class talent.

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The game started, and I shot even more photos.  My seat was a just a couple rows back from the touch line between the center stripe and the top of the six yard box of the goal defended by the Red Bulls in the first half.    It only took three minutes for the magic to begin.  Henry had the ball down the right side, just inside the center stripe.  It was like looking over his shoulder as he lofted  the ball toward goal where Kenny Cooper had made his run, heading the ball past the Crew’s keeper, Andy Gruenebaum, to put the Red  Bulls ahead 1-0.  It was a moment of “wow.”  Just writing that flashes the image once again in my mind, sending shivers through me.  Henry scored twice in the game as well, as the Red Bulls defeated Columbus 4-1.

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I saw him play again the following summer in Columbus, where the Crew were able to keep Henry off the scoreboard, but not Tim Cahill, giving the Red Bulls a 1-0 win.  Since 2002, I have been to 12 games at Crew Stadium, and the only games Columbus lost were those two against Henry & New York.

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With him announcing his retirement today, I am especially grateful for having had the opportunity to attend a friendly at Red Bull Arena this summer between the New York Red Bulls and Arsenal.  Though the game ended as a 1-0 win by New York on a goal by Bradley Wright-Phillips (son of former Arsenal great, Ian Wright), to be in the place where my favorite English Premiere League team and my favorite soccer player displayed the beautiful game was priceless.

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Henry’s skill combined with an inspiring level of confidence is what I have admired about this man and his talent.  There are many American soccer fans who will be adjusting to Major League Soccer without Landon Donovan, who also hung up his boots at the close of this season.  For me, I will have to adjust to soccer without Thierry Henry’s mastery of the beautiful game.  He brought me back to soccer, the sport upon which the sun never sets.  Hockey?  What’s that?

Visiting the Indies Chapter Seven: Chesterfield Township Library

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The evening of Thursday, December 4, 2014, I participated in a gathering of local authors, hosted by the Chesterfield Township Library.  The event was organized by Alan Dean Naldrett, author of the Arcadia Press’ Images of America Series “Chesterfield Township” and co-author of “New Baltimore.”  He also penned “Forgotten Tales of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.”  Other authors present included Anchor Bay Fifth Grader Garett Derenge with his book, “The Adventures of Iggy the Iguana;”  Roseville High School senior, Nathan Richendollar and his “Sic Semper Res Publica:  The Political Ramblings of a Disgruntled Midwestern Teenager;” Bob Prevost and historical novel, “Mallast;”  Craig Maki and his historical book, “Detroit Country Music;” Bob and Sherrie Allen and their four books on Macomb County history; Nancy Erlich, Linda Champion, and Jim Champlin with their Arcadia Press Images of America Series book, “Fraser;” and Ellen Marie Blend and her works on psychic phenomenon.

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It was a great night meeting members of my new hometown writing and reading community.  Having moved to Chesterfield Township in April, I’ve now had the pleasure of doing book signings at the library in the city where I grew up (Plymouth) and the library in the place I now call home.

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