Avoid 2016 regrets: follow this 13-step plan of awesome

LIFE by Stephen Whitworth

Gateway Festival | photo by Chris Graham

Gateway Festival | photo by Chris Graham

It’s 2016, a whole new year, and thank god (or God, capitalized, if you prefer—I’m easy). The turning of the calendar gives writers who are still hung-over from the holidays one last chance to [molest] the dog by reaching for that most effective deadline-beating crutch: the half-assed New Year’s resolutions article.

And as one of the most hung-over writers in this province (although it’s not a competition!), I will gladly accept this crutch.

As I’m writing this there are slightly more than 360 days left in 2016. By the time you read this you’ll have, at most, 358 days and change to make the most of the year. But don’t panic, you’ve got me to help you wring the most out of 2016. I’ve got suggestions for both life-changing adventures and easy activities that will give you a year you’ll never forget. And best of all, it won’t cost you anything.

Wait, that’s wrong, a lot of these things will cost money. Dammit, why does everything have to be so hard? Sigh.

Here’s a list of 13 things you can do to have a memorable 2016. Mark ‘em off with a highlight marker as you do them and mail me this page in January, 2017. Good luck!

1. GET MONEY Some of the great ideas on this list have a price that isn’t “free”. I mean, I assume they’ll cost something. I’ve only had one idea for 2016 so far, and it was “Get Money”. I’ll probably have some suggestions coming up like “Visit Berlin” or “See A Movie”. There’s two things that cost money right there. So yeah. Get some money. Where can you find money? Money comes from jobs, inheritances, the sidewalk, trees and, I hear, the end of rainbows. It can also come from crime but you shouldn’t get money that way. Crime can make other people sad. It can make YOU sad, because you could be arrested and jailed, and then how would you spend all your money?

2. FIND THE END OF A RAINBOW People will probably say this is impossible but I have personally done this. Twenty-five or 30 years ago when I lived in Winnipeg I saw a beautiful, arching rainbow that seemed to touch the ground. I marched over to the spot, assuming it would move away as I got close. Nope. The rainbow had indeed touched down on the north-west boulevard of Grant just as it turned into Pembina Highway. I probably should have started digging for gold but there was a lot of traffic going by and I’m sure someone would’ve called the cops and I’d have been in big trouble. Also, no shovel. Anyway, the pot’s probably still there, waiting to be found by someone ambitious. If you find it let me know! Good luck.

3. PLAY DUNGEONS & DRAGONS LIKE IT’S 1982 That was always fun. Dungeons & Dragons was part game, part terrible basement improv theatre and all good times. To have an authentic retro experience you’ll need a couple of bottles of Coke (NOT Pepsi!), a bag of ripple chips and, after about four hours, a pizza. Feel free to speculate what’s going to happen in Revenge Of The Jedi, which comes out next year. Also, don’t throw 20-sided dice at your mom when she tells everyone it’s time to go home.

4. GO TO A GREAT SASKATCHEWAN MUSIC FESTIVAL This one seems so obvious, but that’s going to happen when a writer is both lazy AND running into deadline. Still, between the Regina Folk Festival, the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Ness Creek, the Gateway Festival in Bengough and about a gajillion other fests dotted all over this province you’ll have lots of ridiculously good options. And for fuck’s sake, you don’t want your life’s worth of music experiences to be the 8,000th repeat of “You Shook Me All Night Long” on the radio, do you? Ugh.

5. GET INTO SHAPE You exist inside a skin-sack of bones, organs and blood. If you take care of this package, you’ll feel much better. Moderate exercise three times a week—even walking—will make a huge difference, and you should commit to it. You’ll be happier. Besides you can’t play Dungeons & Dragons ALL the time.

6. GET WAAAY INTO SHAPE Set up a super-ambitious fitness plan where every individual twitch of a muscle is calibrated to enhance your body. Control your nutrition with the same level of unhealthy obsession. Through meditation, train your mind in techniques of advanced nerve control. Discover the secret of reverse-aging through sheer willpower, and gain strength beyond what normal humans possess. In a lab, experiment with exotic chemicals and previously undiscovered elements to imbue yourself with extraordinary powers. Speak with animals. Soar through clouds. Turn invisible. You can do it, you are a master of molecules.

7. DON’T SEE ANY SUPERHERO MOVIES Do you really care whether Batman beats Iron Man? Spend the two hours of your life you’ve just saved being kind to your friends and family or maybe just go for a nice walk. Perhaps you’ll see a rainbow!

8. TRAVEL THIS BEAUTIFUL PROVINCE Judging by the 2016 calendars I was leafing through in the “on sale” pile yesterday, Saskatchewan has a lot of amazing scenery. Get out there and see some! Make sure to report back. I’m not convinced it’s safe to leave the city. There’s wild animals, weird weather and probably militias out there. Wait, that’s Oregon.

9. TRAVEL TO BERLIN I’ve never been. Hear it’s amaaaaazing.

10. DRAW. WRITE. PLAY MUSIC. MAKE ART. Don’t worry about being good, just enjoy it. As far as drawing goes, remember that few adults draw better than children, so aspire to playfulness and simplicity. It’ll be good for your soul.

11. READ A BOOK Staring at screens every day can’t possibly be healthy. Read something on paper. Speaking of that…

12. READ YOUR LOCAL FREE PUBLICATIONS Look, I know some of our writing has an “oh shit it’s the deadline, what can I pull out of my ass in five minutes” quality, but a lot of it is actually really good. It can get even better if you engage with it too. Criticism is great, as long as it’s smart. Even MEAN criticism is cool as long as it’s funny.

13. LIVE, DAMN YOU, LIVE You can live your life better on your own than by listening to advice from an idiot writing for an alternative newspaper. Take charge and kick ass. Remember, you’re awesome. And we love you. Now go get 2016!

Stephen Whitworth is not allowed to write for this paper any more.