COLUMN: New Year's Resolutions
Resolution can be defined as ‘the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose’. I have oft been described as ‘being in a mental state’ but more often as lacking in firmness or more aptly … infirm.
I have always hated New Year’s. I make resolutions that I have every intention off keeping but never manage to keep. This lack of success is disconcerting enough in of itself but when friends and family encourage me to return to my wicked ways it becomes downright discouraging. As the wisdom and insight of ageing begun to gel, along with my foibles, I have begun to search for a way to avoid my annual fall into failure.
The year I resolved to lose weight because every piece of clothing I owned had inexplicably shrunk over the Christmas Holiday, as seems typical. Four days after embarking on a high protein, low fat, chelated, roughage enhanced, yeast free micro biotic diet I turned around to find my partner offering me a rather large slice of chocolate cheesecake. “Not to discourage you , she explained, “but the growls from your stomach keep me awake at night and your growling throughout the day makes me want to leave home … so eat.” Never one to pass up good advice I left my resolution in the dust in order to make someone else’s life more bearable. The nobility of my act could not alter the fact that my clothes still were too small to be comfortable in.
The New Years following I found myself in the same situation. Remembering my previous experience I determined that I would need to try a different strategy to reduce my weight. A new, one size larger wardrobe each year was something I just could not afford. I resolved at five minutes before midnight to try a vigorous exercise program that would enable me to fit back into my clothes. Two or three nights a week were spent at the gym. Exercise bikes, weight training, stretching, swimming and skipping were all employed to exorcise away the extra accumulation of good eating. When my partner hugged me I began to moan. It was, alas, not out of passion but rather because every part of my body was more tender than I thought possible. When I began to complain incessantly about all the sore muscles she was crushing, she hid my t-shirt and shorts and took me out to buy some new clothes.
Smoking following a similar pattern the new years after that. My behaviour a week into withdrawal resulted in my friends chipping in and buying me a pack of the brand they knew I had smoked. As I deeply inhaled the room began to spin and a measure of sanity returned. I looked down at my nicotine stained fingers and was thankful for concerned friends but discouraged once more with my inability to maintain a resolution. For a variety of reasons all of my resolutions over the last decade have met a similar fate.
As life works itself out I have come to understand that I must set goals that are attainable and realistic. A bevy of self help books and intense therapy have pointed toward the same thing … “Resolve yourself to aspirations that are both lofty and attainable”. Meditation, speculation and obsessive journaling put me in touch with what I could attain but a quote from Oscar Wilde focused me on the resolutions that I am certain I will be able to maintain this year. Mr. Wilde stated, “The only way to overcome temptation is to yield to it”.
With the New Year looming large, I have resolved to eat as I please, smoke no more but no less, to exercise when I feel that rare urge and to resist everything except temptation. I am certain that I can keep this year’s resolutions quite easily and not drive anyone to distraction because of them. I may not live as long as I would like, but the time I am allotted will be spent more happily by me and by those who have suffered through all my past resolutions.