With the deadline fast approaching, I still haven’t settled on a New Year’s resolution for 2018.
The exercise of resolving to make a significant change in the year ahead to better yourself as a person, improve your health or change bad habits is a worthwhile one. It’s good to start a new year with an honest assessment of where you are and where you’d like to be at year’s end.
Putting your energy behind achieving a goal can be satisfying and inspiring.
A few years ago, I pledged myself to reading four books a month. Finding the time to pull it off was a challenge, but as the final minutes of the year ticked down, I turned the last few pages of book No. 48. (I’ll admit, not all the tomes were “War and Peace”; there were some skinny volumes on the reading list.)
This year, though, I’m uninspired, even though there are plenty of things about me that could use fixing.
I could resolve to eat healthier and exercise more, but whenever I consider that I remember what I told my doctor when he talked to me about changing my lifestyle to lower my blood pressure: “I’ll just take the pill.”
I know myself too well to be delusional about my ability to pull off sustained deprivation. And besides, I lost some weight last year during Lent and so far it hasn’t come back, and I can’t afford to replace my wardrobe again.
Likewise, I could vow to be nicer, more sensitive, more attentive to my friends and loved ones, and a lot less judgmental. But good Lord, that would take more than an amendment; it would require a constitutional convention.
And even then, the measure of success for such a wholesale improvement is subjective. I may think I’ve pulled off the transformation, but everyone else might still view me as a self-absorbed crank. I’d hate to do all that heavy lifting with no visible pay-off.
A lot of folks resolve to have more fun, take more trips, pursue more adventures. That all sounds good, if a little selfish. But I’d hate for having fun, traveling and adventuring to become an obligation instead of an avocation. Turning them into a resolution might kill the joy of spontaneity.
Truth is, I may be getting too old to improve much of anything. After 60-plus years, this may be it in terms of my development. The reality may be that I’m never going to have a six-pack, never going to learn to water ski, not gonna pick up a foreign language or turn out a perfect pan of biscuits.
Nor am I likely to become a vegan, curb my temper or develop the tact not to ask “Are you pregnant?” unless the woman is wearing a T-shirt that says “I’m Pregnant!” And I enjoy grouchiness too much to ever give it up for good. Same goes for bourbon. And fruit cake.
There may be some small adjustments I can make, a bit of tinkering here and there. But I realize now I’m a finished product, with all the imperfections baked in for good.
And that sounds like the just-right resolution: To accept the permanence of my flab and flaws and not start the New Year under the enormous, self-imposed pressure to erase them. To paraphrase Popeye, I yam who I yam.
So pass the potato chips and don’t talk to me while I’m watching the football game. It’s going to be a great year. I can do this.
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