|This is why it snows...|
The New Year’s resolution. Who thought up this idea: this national, subversive trend supposedly designed to empower people to change their lives for the better but that ultimately sabotages
all behavior aimed at self-reflection? Probably Hallmark.
The theory is plausible: examine your life and make note of where some change is due. At the first breath of the New Year, the launch of twelve months of possibility, the threshold of potential, vow to all humankind (or any of your close, personal friends who happen to be around) that you will make that change to the best of your ability. You will lose ten pounds, you most definitely will quit smoking, and you will finally put away some money for a rainy day
(or a sunny day, say, in Jamaica). This will happen—as God is your witness, let no man put asunder. Then you order another plate of nachos, light up a cigarette, and buy another round of champagne cocktails for yourself and your friends to celebrate the new you.
Some resolutions may have a longer life than the few seconds after they are uttered. I’m sure there are people out there who take them seriously. All that introspection and taking stock must be good for the soul (or something). People take more time noticing what they aren’t doing in their lives, what they haven’t accomplished, or who they haven’t been nice to today than they did in the past. I don’t imagine that the pioneers gathering at the town well on New Year’s Eve two hundred years ago were figuring out which piece of their emotional baggage to work on. Today, however, we are encouraged by shrinks, friends, therapists, books, websites, magazine articles, and television infomercials to excavate our psyches. If you find something amiss in your life and it needs improvement, I am willing to bet a study has already been done on it and there’s a book and series of workshops out there that will help you fix it. To be honest, I admire such self-repair; I just don’t want you to invite me to the party. We all know how much fun it is to hang out with people who spend a lot of time thinking about themselves and then hashing it out with you.
I’m sure I will get in trouble with some of you for being insensitive to those among us who are reflective. Socrates suggested that an unexamined life is not worth living. Maybe so—but an over-examined life is boring. Whatever happened to the natural process of figuring out what needs to be changed? Like listening—not only to yourself, but also to the people around you. Picking up clues from our environment about how to behave is pretty much how people did it before we were all urged to look inside. My opinion? The pendulum has swung a little wide, and in doing so, it has closed many of us off from one another. Eventually, though, it will come back to the middle and we will all live happily ever after in an effectively communicative society that balances self-introspection with symbiosis. Just like algae on lichen—that’s how I like to live.
As for New Year’s resolutions, I’ll give them a shot. Doing what everybody else is doing can’t be all bad—in moderation. But, just to be different (something I constantly do, something that I should perhaps consider changing), I will modify the process just a little to give myself a fighting chance. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I will make New Year’s adjustments.
1. I will keep at that ten pounds. (Fine. Twenty.) But in my defense, I did join a gym once, and those pounds haven’t gone anywhere yet, except on vacation for a little while in the summer. They came right back right between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
2. I will try to be more patient with my husband . . . as long as his resolution is to keep his paintbrushes out of the kitchen sink.
3. I’ll save some money. I’ll save. I’ll save twenty dollars between January 1st and December 31st, just to prove I can do it.
I think three is enough. Wish me luck.
Happy New Year.