Saturday, December 27, 2008
New Year's Revolutions--Part One
Why do people even try to keep New Year's resolutions? The act is doomed from the outset. Most New Year's resolutions are made a) while drunk, b) in front of loads of family members and c) in a loud tone of voice. Drunk people make bad decisions and everybody knows it, therefore it's much easier to shuck the guilt on January 1st when you can say "I was drunk, so it doesn't count." Many of the family members present at New Year's resolution declarations are teenagers who are most likely not drunk and therefore will remember and repeat ad nauseam everything you said until your resolve collapses in a fit of pique and you light up/chow down/lunge for the remote/consume enough Jagermeister to quell your urge to strangle any teenage wise-ass that dares to quip in your general direction. Anything declared in a loud tone of voice, even when alone, is null and void as soon as the echo is gone--that's just a fact. If one says loudly that one is never going to do a particular thing, like as not one will find oneself doing exactly that on the City Hall steps at high noon. An insidious aspect of this fact is that sometimes it can take years to swing back around to kick you in the ass, sometimes decades, and by the time you find yourself enmeshed in whatever you said you'd never do, you will have forgotten all about it and there will be some former teenage wise-ass right there to remind you.
Some people really do try to keep their resolutions, usually with hilarious results. A few New Years ago my sister-in-law quit smoking at midnight on January 1st. By 10:00am she had washed and folded every item of clothing in the house and she had a nice tic going in her face. By 1:00pm she was soaking already-clean dishes in the bathtub in boiling water and bleach and looking very sweaty about the temples. By 4:00pm she was frantically vacuuming out and Febreeze-ing her SUV in a superhuman effort to keep herself from leaping into it and heading pell-mell for the convenience store, and her eyes were twirling like pinwheels. My husband quit smoking about three years ago, and he did it without any fanfare whatsoever by choosing to extend a period of abstinence brought on by a sinus infection indefinetely. He never said "I quit" or "I'm going to quit" because he never ever EVER says things like that, he just goes ahead and does things and waits for us slowfolks to catch on. It is interesting to note that while I admire the hell out of his ability to just get on with it, it kind of ticks me off that he is so successful at affecting change. I despise change, even when it is inevitable, obviously necessary and/or the only thing between me and death, so there is always a lot of internal mental screaming involved with me making even the smallest change to the status quo.
There are still plenty of farmers living and farming around here and they all get together every year around this time down at the Service Club and plan out how they're going to rotate the crops so that the soil stays healthy, the point being that near-constant change is a natural state and if you don't roll along with it, that seed won't take. So even though the practice of making New Year's Resolutions is pretty much a futile act, the premise behind it is rooted in nature and inexorably tied to personal growth as a human being.
Part Two will appear on December 31st.