I had a sobering experience this New Year’s. By “sobering,” I don’t mean a hangover. My experience consisted of meeting my 12-year-old self. Via a diary, that is. I came across it and discovered that the young girl I used to be decades ago had written her first list of New Year Resolutions. They consisted of such vital vows as to lose weight, stop biting her nails, clean up her messy room, and so on. What’s sobering is the realization that I’ve been basically making the same resolutions for decades since. I also discovered several diary pages later that those pre-adolescent promises were already D.O.A. My subsequent vows have lasted an average of two weeks.
I’m hardly unique since the majority of people are the same fallible vowers. So why do we bother to make resolutions again and again? Maybe it’s because we can’t resist the illusion that in a new year we’ll be thinner, more organized, better disciplined, what not. I even invest in a new address book each year, in the futile hope that this time no names will have to be deleted.
I’ve had a lifelong fantasy that when I wake up each January 1st the world and I will seem different. I’ll actually stay on my diet, make overdue phone calls, be cheerful instead of grouchy in the A.M., not lose my temper (it’s on permanent Lost and Found) .
I’m looking for a miracle marker for transformation. But the undeniable truth is that January 1st isn’t a year later, but just a day later than – in this case – 2013. (I write those numerals as if saying goodbye to them.) Those of us who also have a New Year on the religious calendar have a second shot at this. I even feel my birthday is a kind of starting line.
Yet, unlike fiction, our lives don’t divide into neat chapters. In my books I’ve always started each chapter on a fresh page. But I find myself doing something different with the novel I’m now working on. Instead of a new page for each chapter, I’m continuing my heroine’s story, divided only by triple spacing and asterisks. This may indicate a subterranean shift within myself, an acknowledgment that this year still in its infancy is really just a continuation of the old.
This doesn’t mean we can’t rewrite it, day by day. But for the first time I did not make resolutions to do this. Oddly, I feel handicapped without them, so I’m making a few belated ones that are very different from the ones I made in the past. For a small example, I am not promising to stay 100% on my diet. I do promise that when I indulge I’ll allow myself to enjoy it, not wallow in guilt.
On a larger note, I vow to honor whatever talent I’ve been blessed with. Not squander it in time-killing activities or energy-wasting emotions like anger and hate and fear, all those gremlins that take up space in my head — rent free! I do believe that each of us has a talent of one kind or another, and that it’s a sin to waste it. (I hope next January I won’t be writing a blog about how I forgot this!)
May we each make whatever changes are possible – and forgive ourselves if we don’t.
BOOKS: “WIDOW’S WALK,” available through iUniverse.com; “TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW” -xLibnris.com; “TEN WOMEN OF VALOR ” – CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com. Also Amazon Kindle.