This is how you figure out how many New Year’s resolutions you have made: Take your age and subtract 20. Voila! There is, of course, a slight margin for error. For example, if you know for a fact that you started making resolutions in your teens, but hey, who can remember? (There’s actually an article in today’s NYT about dementia that says, “Some wonder if a directive to hasten death should apply to a person who can’t remember it.”) So, I have made nearly fifty resolutions. How many have I kept? Zero, I’m pretty sure. So, why do we make them?
It’s simple. We make them to set our sights on greater personal achievements. To better ourselves. Can’t we all be better? But what happens if we resolve to lose weight, to stop nagging the husband about his abhorrent color combinations, or to not give the finger to maniacal assholes on the freeway, and we do this every year? Year in and year out. The same resolutions, I mean. By January 10th, maybe you’ve lost three pounds, let the husband go to a friend’s dinner party wearing camouflage pants and an orange tee shirt with citrus fruit on it and smiled when that Range Rover cut you off (causing only the tiniest of a whiplash), but where are you today? Did you not have pizza for breakfast? Screw up your face so it looked like a tightly rolled cinnamon bun when the husband left today in white chinos (it’s winter for heaven sakes, I don’t care if this is California) and a purple tee that says, “Los Angeles Poultry Co. Inc.” on the back? And you don’t even want to get into the car because you’ve already blown two out of three. And guess what? There’s more pizza in the fridge.
If we aim high and shoot low, should we still bother to aim? Whenever I ask friends if they made New Year’s Resolutions and they answer no, I’m disheartened. Can’t you be better at something? Are you perfect? Is the whole world your oyster? (Whatever that means.) I want people to cop to their imperfections and own up to the responsibility they have to themselves to be better– more compliant, more loving, kinder, gentler, more healthy, more friendly, bearers of good karma, helpful scouts and hearty friends. At least for two and a half weeks, anyway.