Apropos of Nothing: New Year’s Resolutions — They’re Back!
An Editorial by Jamie Beckett

It is a sad commentary on human nature at this festive time of year that amid the glut of gift giving, goodwill toward men, and ultra-revelry of the season, we choose to delve into the deepest darkest hole of self-delusion we can invent for ourselves. Yes, I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions.

How’s that been going for you? 

If you genuinely want to lose weight, get more organized, save a boatload of money, or spend the rest of your days stopping to smell the roses, it’s hard to find a less likely method of making that happen than to commit to a verbal promise you make to yourself as you simultaneously plan for a night of partying that completely contradicts all the improvements you want to make to yourself.

That’s the crux of the problem, isn’t it? We wallow in hard earned self-derision for at least 40 weeks a year, worrying about our waistline, our hairline, and the balance of our bank account, then spend two to six weeks each winter absolutely convinced we can reinvent ourselves overnight. Poof, I’ll be as slender as a ballerina. Zap, I’ll become as wealthy as a sheik. Ta-da, I’ll earn my PhD in Linguistics in a flash.

Take heart, as weird as we are about it, our modern obsession with self-improvement is far easier and less time consuming than the historically accepted methods. Why, prior to the mid-19th century, a poor dirt farmer who wanted to find ultimate enlightenment had to travel to half way around the world to even have half a shot at success. After working for his passage on a leaky, rat infested tramp steamer to the Orient, the pilgrim had no choice but to walk nearly a thousand miles into the Himalayas, where a cramped, drafty cave would become his home for the next decade or so.

In almost total silence and with minimal human contact, he would contemplate the meaning of life by submitting to a rigid program of self-deprivation as he sought the secret to finding true inner peace. In the end, he might come to realize that being a turnip farmer on the outskirts of Apple Tree Flat, New South Wales, wasn’t such a bad life after all. Or he might freeze to death and be found by tourist hikers from Los Angeles who use his mummified remains as the basis for a new reality show. Their agents and managers are currently shopping the idea around to premium cable channels. No kidding.

Given that history, those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the Western World have it comparatively easy. Sure, our New Year’s resolutions are generally unrealistic. They might even be stupid and expose us as selfish, superficial beings who care about little but ourselves. Be that as it may,  nearly all of us live in close proximity to a sports bar that’s stocked to the rafters with cold beer, tangy hot wings, and a wall full of televisions so enormous that we risk radiation burns and cellular necrosis just for being there. Other than that, everything about our modern world is designed to soothe our minds, widen our bellies, empty our pocketbooks, and make us feel pretty darned good about it at the same time.

Hey, it’s a New Year. Again. Let’s party!

Nobody wants to spend the greatest night of the year with a Debbie Downer, or a Dan Dreary. So let’s commit ourselves to a whole new course of action this year. If we dedicate ourselves to having that second helping when the mood strikes us, eating desert more often, grabbing a cold one as a matter of routine, and maybe even running up the credit card on a vacation we really can’t afford – what’s the worst that could happen?

I’ll tell you what the worst that could happen is, you could die. And you could leave this world with the sudden realization that you’ve wracked up more debt than your estate could ever possibly pay off.

I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like a win to me.

The great and powerful Yvonne Griswold once said to me, “Never say no to ice-cream.” And so I don’t, because Yvonne lived to be 102 years old. She never spent a single day in the gym and avoided self-help books like the plague.

That being the case, I’m subscribing to the Yvonne Griswold School of New Years resolutions from now on. Wish me luck.