New Year’s Resolutions
It’s a new year and with it comes new expectations and hopes. Having posted the rather lengthy Kinslayer Chronicle, I felt that perhaps it was time for a bit more of my random musings. And what better to fill this blog with than my thoughts on an age old western tradition.
The first thing I was asked by friends after the clock struck twelve on January 1st (once we actually started talking since we’re all approaching that point in life where we don’t see any value in staying up abnormally late anymore) was what I had resolved to do this year. My response was short and rote. I’m upholding my resolution years ago to not make New Year’s resolutions. It’s a cop-out, I know but bear with me as I explain myself.
Talk to most people and they all have similar goals. Fitness and dieting are high amongst them as is the utter devotion to their goals for a good solid two to three weeks. And then, inevitably, the resolutions fall to the wayside. I had my fair share of “get healthy” promises each year. It wasn’t until university that I began to approach health and fitness a bit more seriously. And I didn’t leave it to little early morning resolution either.
I am focused on self-improvement. Perhaps not the most evident quality I exhibit but one that shouldn’t be a surprising confession. I’m an introvert and for years in school kept wanting to be more popular and liked. But worry about making a fool of myself kept me reclusive and withdrawn. It wasn’t until after numerous self-berating sessions in the shower that I realized there was nothing standing in my way than myself. Course, my solution in the wisdom of youth was to stop caring what others thought of myself and though perhaps not the most accurate attitude to correct it did accomplish the goal I set. I joined Drama Club, got more involved in activities and found myself forming more friendships than I have since. My desire to achieve greater self confidence was won and without having to make a routine promise at the flipping of a calendar.
Thus, in university, my decision to get healthy was a similar random decision. I set a time I would go to the gym, I began borrowing weights from friends and I made a conscious decision every week to meet a minimum exercise goal. I wasn’t successful at first. I made many mistakes. I had several injuries. I did things in the most arduous manner possible. But sheer stubborn will saw me through and I formed the habit I wanted. I also weened myself off sugar.
So, accomplishing the goals of a new year’s resolution were done outside of the social convention. There is just something about the ritual itself that I don’t want to tie to my success. There’s almost an expectation that these resolutions are meant to be broken. I saw it all the time in the gym. The first three weeks of the new year were always the worst. There were all these new faces clogging up the machines and forming lines for the weights. And you just knew, as you tried to grow accustomed to these queues, that these people’s time was numbered. I grew almost resentful of the fact that I had to wait on them – these individuals that had no real desire to be there but just came out because of some silly tradition.
Which, of course, was unfair but I was much younger back in those golden years.
And sometimes these rituals have merit. My first novel was essentially accomplished under the requirements of a new year’s resolution. When I was in Japan, I spent New Years with one of my student’s family. They took me to the nearby shrine to enjoy the festival and encouraged me to purchase a Daruma doll. These little bearded Buddhas are sold without pupils. When you obtain one, you make a wish to accomplish something that year and you draw in one of the eyes. Then you set the little devil on the table so he stares at you unblinking with that one eye. Only once you’ve completed your wish are you able to finish his sight. My wish that year was to write a novel and the guilt that guy instilled kept me motivated on that milestone task.
Course, you’re also suppose to return him to his home shrine and throw him on an enormous pyre at the end of the year but I wasn’t going to fly back to Japan to complete the full exercise. Instead, I keep him on my dresser as a reminder of my success.
So, the long and the short of this is I do make yearly resolutions. This year I’m trying to revamp my schedule in such a way to increase productivity while re-aligning my time to sync up better with friends and family. I have a poor tendency to grow somewhat insular, especially when I’m working, so hopefully this will make me a little less of a troglodyte.
Course, if anyone asks, I’m still holding to my resolution to not make any.