I do admire people who make and even keep their resolutions (or I would if I met them – raise your hand if you’re one of them), especially when I seem to fail so utterly at keeping my own.
When I accepted that all that failing just made me feel bad, I stopped.
Who knows, maybe we need this yearly ritual, a shared relief softened with Ahh, we made it. A collective synchronization of our watches, a way to give ourselves a clean slate. To point our feet in the direction we want to go. To that end, we sing Auld Lang Syne and shout Happy New Year! We kiss at midnight and buy gym memberships and make lists of how to make the next year better. How to make ourselves better, thinner, healthier, kinder, more patient, more organized.
And it always sounds like a hell of a lot of work. I’ve never read a list of resolutions that made me think, Wow, I am so jealous. I mean, I’ve been in awe of some lists – I’ve seen some that would make Martha Stewart a little nervous. And, of course, I’m aware that there are payoffs, and value in setting a goal and reaching it. (An example: in spite of my inherent messiness, I function better when my house is neat). But this idea that we need to fix ourselves is one that I struggle with. What if we just decided to take more pleasure in the things we enjoy, when we can? What if we let ourselves take big greedy handfuls of the things that keep us hanging on, that keep us sane, as long as we’re not hurting anyone else?
When you’re hanging on to a lifeline, can you really call it a resolution?
I’m not suggesting that we abandon responsibility, but what’s the worst that can happen if you bump Clean hall closet off the list and replace it with See James Taylor in concert? When you look back on the year, which one will you remember?
If I were going to make a list of resolutions, the whole point would be to make the year happier, more bearable, sweeter. A wish list, of sorts. Something like this…
- Spend more time outside. Where the fresh air is.
- Sit out and look at the stars (got a great start on this Saturday morning – I was up at 4:30 to watch the meteor shower and saw 109 of them in two hours). Or pay attention to when the moon will rise, and go look.
- Keep my ice skates where I can find them next winter at the lake. Laugh loud and long when I fall on my ass. Repeat.
- Eat quarts and quarts of strawberries this spring, and peaches in summer. Make cobbler.
- Play a lot of games of Sorry with the kids. It’s always more fun than I think it will be.
- Read more books, and don’t feel even a little guilty when I get the chance to spend a whole day in pajamas, curled up with a book. Encourage same behavior in my children, because there’s nothing wrong with it.
- Save up to buy a kayak, and then use it – early in the morning when the water is calm and the day is quiet.
- Wrap myself in the knowledge (and try hard to know it, really know it) that I am loved by people who mean everything to me, and let myself believe that I’m worthy of it.
- Wish on stars with abandon (I do this already). What does it hurt? Call it prayer, call it throwing a wish out into the universe. Call it hope.
Yes, I hope, still. And that surprises me, when the weight of the years rests heavy and stubborn on my shoulders, when I’m tempted to look back and wade through the stream of what might have been, when what is feels like too much and not enough, at once.
At last, all of that hope came to something. Knowing that we’re moving, and where and when, has calmed me. I feel like a part of me that has felt like an endless storm of stress has settled into a calm, deep pool.
And I resolve to enjoy it. Or I would. You know, if I did that sort of thing.
P.S. Go ahead, try to convince me that one or two of those wishes didn’t come true.
P.P.S. One more for the list:
See James Taylor or the Eagles or Ray LaMontagne or Marc Cohn in concert.