I admit, I’ve never really understood the concept of resolutions. Treating a new year like it’s a second (or 46th) chance, or spitting upon the grave of its predecessor like our burdens might fade along with it through layers of worm and ash makes little sense. (Although, it would be fine if this past year were to receive an asterisk in that regard).
However, in most cases nothing is new but the calendar, whether it is an abrupt switch from dogs dressed as people to babies dressed as flowers, beefcake to hot rods, or a word of the day recommenced. I prefer to hold my hopes till spring when they do their thing eternal.
This isn’t to imply that change isn’t on my horizon, especially for my children. The calendar, though, is just public record of it: a billboard growth chart pinned for our amusement. As parents we must remember, it isn’t our official timeline that guides our children’s progress so much as their own personalized version, an internal app that’s password protected with alerts turned to 11. There will be milestones, heartaches, wins, losses, adolescent angst and tender moments we can’t leave alone. They will have grown through two shoe sizes come summer. The resolution is theirs for the making. We are the old acquaintances, unforgotten, who make sure the cups stay filled with kindness.
All of which is to say that goals are a good thing. After all, I need to go to the gym as much as anyone. But why hinge the betterment of ourselves, of society, upon the phases of the moon when tomorrow the sun will rise and the day is sure to follow?
If anything, delaying goals until dates printed upon the calendar only prolongs our excuses not to meet them. The future may be inevitable, but improvement is the whim of fancy. Should things need to be done, we should do them as soon as possible.
Everyone in our family maintains a list for later: the stuff we would like to do now, but seems to remain for want of some free time. It includes languages to learn, hobbies to take up, and assorted boxes to check. They are undertakings not dependent upon the new year, but rather our own want and determination. No instant gratification here, just occasional moments of clarity found when objects of desire are realized as obtainable, should one work hard enough to make it happen. The work is on each of us.
On the eve of this new year, as the old was going anything but gentle into that good night, I noticed the boys each had their respective lists in hand. It was a culling, an assessment, a time to tweak and update the plans in motion.
“I think it’s important to be more positive,” said one. “To put more good into the world.”
“I think we already do that,” said the other.
“But writing it down makes it official,” was the reply. “It holds us all accountable.”
And we hung the lists back in their place upon the board against the wall in the kitchen. Beneath the bullet points of surfing and Swedish, there was one new message, simple as a sunrise: Keep getting better.
It was an idea that began long ago. It’s one they will carry forward forever, regardless of the day or season. I plan on doing likewise.