Friday, December 31, 2010

You DO make New Year's Resolutions. Don't you?

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. 
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”  
~Bill Vaughan
As December slowly ebbs into the bright hope of another January 1st, I have this to say about 2010 – can this please be OVER?  Shoo.  Scat.  Git.  You low down, no good, poor excuse of a year.
2010 was one of those years we all have now and then, the ones we’re glad to see the back of.  And as it slinks off into wherever old years go to relish the havoc they wreaked while they reigned, it’s time to dust off the party hats and celebrate a brand new start.
Since this is a New Year, it seems appropriate to make some resolutions to go with it. 
From what I can figure, the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions goes way back, all the way to the ancient Babylonians who apparently believed they could appease their gods by paying off debts and returning things they’d borrowed during the year (if only the woman who borrowed my typewriter in 1991 had been Babylonian).  Centuries later, the Romans took over the traditions, altering it to make promises of good conduct to their god Janus (he’s the one in the museums with one face looking backward and another looking forward, they even named the month after him).    
While I can’t verify the historical facts, I’d be willing to bet that however long humans have been making resolutions, they’ve also been breaking them.  That’s why I no longer formally resolve to do anything that will make me healthier, stronger, nicer, smarter, prettier, thinner, or will in any way improve my moral character.
I didn’t make any resolutions for 2010, and I probably should have – like Take Cover!  Too late for that.  But I do have a list for 2011.  It’s more a glorified to-do list than a list of formal resolutions (I'm thinking Congress will make plenty of those before 2011 exits). 

For what it’s worth, here’s my list for 2011 – I’d love to hear about yours . . .
1)   I’m going to get up and leave work at quitting time.  Just because I’ve never done this in my life doesn’t mean I’m not capable of doing it now.  I mean it’s not like stopping smoking or something truly challenging.  I just have to stand up and walk out the door, right?  I can do that.  I’m sure I can.
2)   I’m going to paint the kitchen cabinets.  (Well, I’m pretty sure I’m going to do that.)  These cabinets weren’t top of the food chain when the previous owner installed them in 1989.  They haven’t improved in 21 – now almost 22 – years.  Replacing them is hideously expensive, but refinishing them might buy me another few years.  So, yes, I’m going to do that.  Remind me, please.
3)   I’m going to figure out what lives where.  I keep two residences, see?  (Don’t ask me to explain.  Like that relationship choice on Facebook, “It’s complicated.”)  And before this year is over I’m going to be able to think about a pair of scissors, or a measuring tape, or a notebook, and know precisely where it is.  Granted, it still may not be in the same zip code I am, but at least I’ll know.  By this time next year, I plan to open my sweater drawer in either abode without wondering where I left the red one.  I swear I will.
4)   I’m going to decide, once and for all, whether or not to go ahead and get cable.  That may not mean much to you, but I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy thinking about it.  I enjoy the righteous feeling that comes with saying, “I don’t have cable.”  But that only happens when I’m with people I’m hoping to impress – not when I’m all stretched out on the sofa, subconsciously reaching for the remote.  Don’t get me wrong, Hulu is great, but I keep waffling – so sometime in 2011 I’m finally going to make up my mind.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.
5)   I’m not going to wait for life to get better.  A smart teacher once told me, “It’s easier to guide a rolling vehicle than one parked with the emergency brake on.” (For the record, “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible.  That was Benjamin Franklin. I threw that in because I knew you were thinking about it.)  Among the things 2010 taught me was to bite the bullet and move on.  So I’m going to.
6)   Along with that, I’m going to acknowledge that life is probably good enough as it is.  Before you accuse me of embracing apathy, cut me a break.  Anyone who’s spent more than an hour with me knows I’m neither passive nor a Pollyanna.  But I have figured out that I don’t need everything I think I do; I don’t understand the concept of enough; and I don’t always know when to leave well enough alone.  Probably.
7)   I’m going to enjoy being as young as I am right this minute.  Here’s the fact:  I’m going to be older next year, next month, next week, tomorrow.  And face it -- ayear here, a year there, and pretty soon you’re talking about Medicare and Social Security (well, some will live to talk about it – it will be long gone before others get to that point).  So I might as well enjoy how young I am now.  It’s younger than I’m ever going to be again. 
8)   I’ll end this list by adding that in 2011 I don’t intend to borrow trouble.  Unlike God helping those who help themselves, that one IS in the Bible, right there in the Sermon on the Mount.  “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”  See?  Another thing I learned in 2010 was to deal with the mess that’s in front of me, not the one that might be hiding behind the curtain.  (Closely related to item 5, above.)  Not a bad lesson on the whole.
That’s about it.  It’s pointless for me to "resolve" to get more exercise, eat more salads, write more letters, or be less judgmental.  I know those things are important to my well-being.  I’ve also lived long enough to know that I’ll either do them or I won’t – putting them down on a list won't make a difference. 
So, if we’re still having this conversation on December 31, 2011, and if, in the meantime, I’ve figured out how to attain world peace, or won a Pulitzer, or run a marathon – somebody please remind me that my goal was to paint the kitchen cabinets. 
Editor’s Note:  The writer has created a conundrum.  It is impossible to achieve goal #2 (paint the kitchen cabinets) without violating goal #8 (don’t borrow trouble). 

1 comment:

Tony & Debbie said...

Love the list, Martha. You might want to consider getting two red sweaters, however...just a thought.

My list, ill-formed as it is, includes actually reading through my One Year New Testament in 2011, not stopping at half-past Matthew. Also, thanks to daughter Sally (a veteran of NaNoWriMo, a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month) who gave me a terrific book for Christmas called "No Plot? No Problem," I will actually write my first 50,000 word novel this year.

It will be terrible, and it will never see the light of day, but it will be written.

I also resolve to see Joe and Martha much more often. Love you guys!!!