I read an article the other day that said by January 10th, most people have already abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. Dismal statistics, but not surprising. I think the problem is that people who make resolutions tend to make the same ones year after year, expecting that this year will be different and they will finally manage to stick to their plan. I used to do that, too, but I am not an old dog: You can teach me new tricks.
I still make New Year’s resolutions, but they aren’t grandiose ones like they were in days of my youth, when I was only in my fifties, say. I used to resolve to work out four days a week, let no white flour pass my lips, relearn the Rachmaninoff C# minor prelude, and get through War and Peace. Now I aim to accomplish small things. For example, I vow to use my over-ripe bananas to actually make banana bread instead of just talking about making it for so long I end up throwing them in the trash. Oh, wait…who am I kidding? That might be too lofty a goal.
Because my birthday comes right after New Year’s, I am even more acutely aware of the racing of the years. Resolutions, even ones I am doomed to forsake, make me take stock of my life and aim for improvement. Even if I don’t hit the mark I’ve set, trying to reach it makes me feel like I’m still in the race. I don’t need to reinvent myself each year. I just need to feel that I am not that proverbial old dog. Perhaps this will be the year I will finally learn to play the bodhrán.
I think Ben Franklin said it best: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” I’m still working on it. Happy New Year.