How Original: A New Year's Resolution Post

January 2nd, 2009

Change I Can Believe In.

The marking of the new year has always seemed a bit silly to me.  For one thing, it’s totally arbitrary–so much so that other cultures have different dates for theirs. And ours is so clearly at the wrong time of year–can’t we all just admit that the year really begins in September ?

So I don’t really get into the whole New Year celebration thing. Oh, I’ll stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve and I’ll drink some champagne even though I don’t really like it, and I’ll kiss my husband and kids, but I will not put on a stupid hat and sing “Auld Lang Syne” and I absolutely refuse to get so drunk I make out with a stranger–something I feel so strongly about that I didn’t even do it back in the ancient days before I was married.  You have to take a stand on these things.

But here’s what I do believe in: making New Year’s resolutions.  And not because the rest of the country is sitting around on January 1, hung over and bloated, vowing to eat and drink less and exercise more.  I don’t believe in doing anything simply because the mass of humanity is doing it, which is why you won’t catching me watching football games or drinking beer.

No, I believe in New Year’s resolutions for two very simple reasons.  The first is that we all need a new beginning now and then.  It’s like the story of Pandora’s Box, which the kids and I were just talking about this week: each year has its share of sad, scary, disappointing stuff.  We need that little sprite Hope to come dancing in after that to make us feel like maybe the future won’t be so grim.  Making a resolution is like placing a call to hope. 

More importantly, I like resolutions because they put the responsibility for improvement right where it belongs: on the person making the resolution. 

Back when I was a freshman in college, I had to share one single room with another student.  I’m going to be circumspect and simply say the situation wasn’t ideal.  I complained about this less-than-ideal situation quite a bit to whoever would listen.  My older brother was at the same college and I spent a fair amount of time complaining to him specifically.  He was moderately sympathetic at first, but finally lost patience and said, “If you’re not happy with the situation, change it, don’t complain about it.”

It was simple advice but it came at a time in my life when I was trying to figure out a lot of things (like what kind of adult I would become) so it made a big impression on me.  I’ve tried (not always successfully) to remember I shouldn’t sit around complaining about the things I can actually fix.  Or about the ones I can’t fix, for that matter.

So New Year’s is a good time to think about the things that we have power over.  For me, the most obvious one (and the kids all immediately told me this should be my resolution so I know I’m right about this) is for me to STOP STARING AT THE COMPUTER ALL THE TIME.  It’s one thing to write books on my laptop.  It’s another to spend an extra three hours a day checking and Google news to avoid doing something more useful.  This has to stop (well, be cut back on, anyway).  And you know who has the power to stop it?

Me, that’s who. 

So I resolve to spend less time wasting time.  It won’t be easy-I’m an addict and I know it.  I’ve vowed to waste less time before and not succeeded.  But it’s worth trying again.  It’s hard for me because moving away from the computer and all its distractions means I have to come face to face with life, that I have to help the kids with homework, do the dishes, clean up the house, deal with the laundry, return phone calls, make dinner, face up to my responsibilities.  On the other hand, if I actually take care of all that, I can curl up with a book in the evening without feeling guilty about everything I haven’t done that day.

Anyway, I don’t want to lie there on my deathbed regretting the hours I lost to staring at Lindsey Lohan’s latest ugly outfit when I could have been writing or reading or talking to my kids or enjoying the sunshine.  And I have the power to make the change.

So there you go: I resolve to turn my back on the computer more often and choose human interaction over point and click.

What’s your resolution?