Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fresh Start

New Year. New start. New baggage.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think any other day of the year arrives with the attached pressure to improve, remodel, and/or reorganize one’s life and/or self as does January 1st. The ‘old’ year is kicked to the curb with the drying Christmas tree and wrapping remnants and the ‘new’ calendar year is ushered in with parties, trumpeted fanfare, and champagne toasts as resolutions often focusing on self-improvement are enumerated and hopes and plans for the coming year freshly formulated.

Judging by the volume of resolution-related news headlines and social media posts, the custom of New Year’s Resolutions, which according to Wikipedia was practiced by ancient Babylonians, Romans, medieval knights, and Methodist Christians beginning in the 1740s at watchnight services, is still practiced by many people in the Western Hemisphere. In spite of the guilt I may feel as a result, I am not always one of them. Not right away, anyway.

I might get around to drafting resolutions within the first couple weeks of January, if at all. While it’s a nice marker, unlike important calendar reference points like Thanksgiving, my birthday, due dates on bills, or artwork submission deadlines, I don’t see the creation date of my potential resolutions as critical. Heck, half the time I could just change the date on the previous year’s resolutions, which means I am probably not even doing it right.

Unlike my workday goals (back when I had a job), which would be as specific as “Call Denise at (Client) Bank to discuss website navigation, and brochure copy” and “Send home refinancing ad file to Kathy at (Client’s local) newspaper” my annual “resolutions” are often not drafted for precision. My personal goals generally include generalities like “exercise more,” “create more art,” and “write more,” with “more” more or less defined as exceeding whatever level of personal physical activity, journaling or artwork was produced the prior year. Some years I fail miserably on the “more” target, setting a new, low, more easily attainable bar that boosts the chances for stellar success in the coming year.

Back when he held the title “husband,” ex-husband 2.0 would insist we write goal lists each new year, which we shared and compared and more often than not, filed away somewhere, never again to see the light of day. While packing to move from Tennessee to Massachusetts, I found one such list, penned in red ink on a sheet of lined notebook paper. Some goals on the list, such as traveling and buying a different house, had been achieved, but more interestingly, were accomplished by me alone, post-divorce. While successfully cultivating our growing bank balances with Depression-era inspired thrift practices (acting like we were totally poor and rarely going out) we were woefully, shamefully, deficient at cultivating a marital partnership. For seven years, we spent most of our “together time” staring at the TV with him shushing me when I tried to speak. The realization that the majority of our communication was the direct result of me provoking a fight meant it was time for a goal list of my own, which included “save money and get the hell out” and was ultimately, supremely successful.

More recently, my philosophical approach to New Year’s resolutions is akin to the wish made every year on my birthday for as long as I can remember -- To be happy. General. Simple. Timeless. Renewable. Consequently, my resolutions are simultaneously perpetual and attainable. And like I said already, I’m probably doing it wrong anyway.

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