In the dark and foggy stillness of the awkward time between the solstice and the New Year, amidst the announcements of cancelled parties, Apocalyptic paranoia and the latest guy with not enough garden for his supply of ammonium nitrate, it occurs to me that the hype and hoopla surrounding the end of the 1990s, 1900s and 1000s has not included any talk about resolutions.
Part of the problem is that everyone is more concerned with emergency rations, backup power supplies (we have a few extra batteries at our house), and email viruses. Resolutions are a leisure-time activity for the most part, and provide filler for a usually slow time of year. This year, it seems anything but slow. It's loaded, overflowing, refulgent with things to do, think about, avoid, and seek out.
But that nagging obligation that sneaks up on us with every new calendar is still there. Whatever else it is, it is a New Year, after all, and that calls for New Year's Resolutions.
That part that amazes me is that it's not "just" a New Year, but the end of a decade, century and millennium, and that must certainly call for Resolutions of greater import. (If you're one of "them" who wants to tell me "it's next year," feel free to save this as long as you need to for it to be timely.)
Not everybody's in to resolutions, of course. Some of us have lived long enough to recognize them as opportunities for disappointment, yet another standard we can fail to live up to. When I raised the issue with a friend, she said she thought her subconscious went out of its way to make sure that she failed at resolutions, in short order. A more portentious year-end is the last thing she needs; "stealth" resolutions might have more of a chance, maybe on a month end, or a weekend.
I might be that way myself. If I've ever kept a resolution, the memory escapes me, and I'm sure it couldn't have been for long. Maybe all I lacked was sufficient supervision... After all, when I'm driving next to a police car, I always seem able to stay close to the speed limit (or at least no faster than she's going). That's generally accepted as a "good thing," law-abiding, maybe even healthy. But when it's just you and me out there, we're willing to inch it up to 5 or 10 over. Or more, if there's a broad enough consensus.
As a potentially masochistic exercise, it occurs to me that I could publish my resolutions, where multiple people could find out about them, track them, hold my feet to the fire. (An attractive metaphor all by itself, given the weather report.) Even if no one reads this, I can imagine that dozens of people did, and that they're all keeping an eye on me. Maybe that would work.
Which brings me to the difficult part: what to resolve? What changes can I make which are not something I'm going to do anyway, not so formidable that I'll inevitably fail, and capable of making a positive difference in my life? (Maybe you can suggest something.) Has the feeling of one of the many long lists I've made from time to time, and then put out of my mind.
After all this build-up, though, I've got to come up with something. Let's see...
Don't let little things bother me.
Pay more attention to the big things: family, relationships, charity that encourages more of the same.
Go with the flow, but be mindful of big opportunities floating nearby. Sometimes it's worth swimming against the current.
Eat a good breakfast. Avoid those "comfort food" bakery items.
Get some exercise every day; let the body push the brain around for half an hour or more, instead of always letting the brain drive.
When someone wants to talk, stop, look and listen. Smile. (I've actually been making some headway with this one, without having it be "official." Even if no one's noticed, I feel better about myself for it.)
I'm still stuck here. Maybe I'm not the only one, and that's why no one's been writing about this. Resolutions are personal, after all, and most of us aren't quite bold enough to resolve to change the world with its billions of people and eons of time. I think it's always going to come back to the longest journey starting with a single step, and that step always seems to be "first, change one person."
Tom von Alten tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org