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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Should I?




New Year’s Resolutions. Will I? Will I not? Anyone have a coin I can flip? Are they a good idea, or an albatross weighing heavily from our necks, pressuring us excessively?

I’d tend to pick the latter. Then again, making a New Year’s Resolution can be a good way to kick off something I was intending to do anyway. Having an agreed-upon start date is good motivation. It’s a fresh start. A fresh new year. Okay. I’ll do it. Sounds good!

But honestly, I have a knee-jerk reaction to the word “resolution.” Resolutions almost always involve the word “should,” and there’s a lot of pressure in that word! “Should” is often used in reference to something we don’t completely want to do! (I should get up early and clean the house. I should start my taxes in March so I’m not panicking in April. I should eat more fiber but I really want to eat more chocolate!) And don’t try to trick me by saying that I can avoid the pressure of “should” by using the word “ought.” Or the phrase “I will.” I can’t be fooled that easily. It’s not my first New Year’s Eve.
 
Am I the only one who associates New Year’s Resolutions with penance? Impossible. Many people kick off resolutions on January 1st because they indulged over the holidays and feel they must atone. But I’m not sure it’s the best time. On January 1st many places are covered in snow or rain or hail or all of the above and it’s gray and freezing and depressing and there’s no sun and the days are short and the heating bill is long. So why choose this season to add to the misery? Why kick yourself when you’re already down? I say April 1st is a better choice for forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do. At least in April it’s sunny and warm and things are growing and there are flowers and nests full of baby birds and things are more cheerful so this is a much better time to embark upon a new fitness program or some other resolution you don’t completely want to do.

Here in sunny San Diego, we can’t claim evil weather as a reason not to do a New Year’s Resolution. But I’m thinking of the rest of my fellow Americans, in places colder and wetter and grayer than here. Don’t you think April 1st is a more reasonable day to start something difficult? It’s more manageable to stick to a challenging resolution when it stays light later and you can wear shorts and spring grooviness is in the air. Who’s with me? Let’s get a petition going. Or let’s forgo a giant stack of paper and just start a movement. We will not make resolutions on Jan. 1. We may consider making them April 1. And if, by 8pm on April 1st, the resolutions aren’t going well, we can just say it was all an April Fool’s Joke and (ha ha ha) the joke is on you people! Later I’ll insist that I was kidding the morning of April 1st when I said my resolution was starting today and that from this day forward I would be rising with the birds, dusting my house before dawn, saying positive things to myself in the mirror, eating bran and fiber for breakfast, washing my breakfast plate immediately after using it, leaving surprise gifts for neighbors, smiling all day because there’s no room for negativity, not swearing (not even once, all day!), chewing each bite twenty times, standing and sitting tall without one hint of slouching, flossing every single tooth—twice, walking ten miles a day, biking to work, never again using sarcasm, volunteering for Jury Duty, cooking a balanced dinner that is ready right on time, whistling while I work, leaving anonymous notes in mailboxes with inspiring messages like “You rock!” in them, doing the dishes after dinner instead of leaving them overnight, not thinking any mean thoughts about neighbors/coworkers/bosses/strangers/meter maids or politicians, and going to bed with a smile on my face. And you fell for it!

 

I won’t promise I will do all those things, each and every single day. But I suppose I could try to tackle a few of those ideas--maybe one per day. I could try. That’s all I can agree to do. But it’s not a resolution, okay? I don’t want the pressure and I don’t want you playing cop, checking up on me. I’ll call them suggestions instead.

 

Yes, I like this new plan. New Year’s Suggestions, possibly starting on April 1. Or not. We’ll discuss it in March. Or April.

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