December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Janus
The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions is frequently attributed to the ancient Romans or Babylonians. According to some, it has to with Janus, the two-faced king who could look both to the future and to the past, and folks wanting to curry his favor or to start the year out on the right foot.

These days, we don’t so much seek favor from the gods, but tend more to commit to weight loss, exercise, and eating better; getting out of debt; and the generic ‘spending more time’ with friends and family. I worry that last one’s an invitation to spend more time with fingers flying over a touch-screen talking finger to finger, rather than face to face, but in the end it many not matter so much the ‘how’, as long as the ‘what’ is achieved.

This is the first year for resolutions here at veritable pastiche. So here we go:
  • I resolve to engage more with people. Instead of just writing about the people who make the news, I’m going to write to the people I write about, so that they have the chance to get involved in the conversation. And, I resolve to give them the benefit of the doubt even when that seems silly, and even when fairness is the farthest thing from my mind. If they ignore me, well that’s another story…
  • I resolve to find joy in my writing. There are moments, sometimes days, I confess, that writing is the last thing I want to do. And then, when I start up again, I can write for hours without even thinking about it, and it’s all fun. Much of that doesn’t end up anywhere, or get seen by anyone, it’s just me priming the pump. I’m also hoping to explore writing poetry a little more; I used to do that when I was younger, but it’s been a while (well, since my poem for a contest in Slate) and I want to enjoy that again.
  • I resolve to read more this year. My Sweet Baboo and I have a whole mess of books that we’re going to be moving into our new library, before spring. They come from garage sales, from friends, and from the bargain bins at the major booksellers, and they’re here for me whenever I need them. I just have to make time for me to make time for them.
  • And, of course, it wouldn’t be a new year if I didn’t resolve to lose weight, eat better, exercise more, spend more time with family, and be kind to strangers.

Oscar Wilde famously noted that, "a New Year's Resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other."  He's right; historically, while something like half of American adults make resolutions, 97% of the ones made are never fulfilled. And while 75% of us are solid on the resolutions after two weeks, a mere 46% make it past six months. I don't know the number of those who make it the full year, but it's not high.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to meet your expectations, if not my own. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, safe, and prosperous New Year.