happy old year!

It’s high time I wrote a blog post. Here one is.
When I was 30, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I figured by that age, the main outlines of my personality were pretty much set, and the window of opportunity for making any major changes had closed. However, recently I decided to take this concept one step farther; hence, the “Old Year’s Resolutions.”
New Year’s resolutions are basically about doing something new. They might be about stopping doing something, like quitting smoking, but they are basically positive in nature. The Old Year’s resolution, on the other hand, are about paring away unnecessary things, streamlining and simplifying your life. They’re about stopping doing something that you’ve been doing (or trying to do) for ages and just isn’t working for you.
The Old Year’s Resolution is the perfect counterpart to the New Year’s resolution. If, for example, in January you resolved to work out at the gym five times a week, and in May you find you have only been to the gym twice in the past four months, then you make an Old Year’s Resolution to quit. Quit the gym. It’s just not working for you.
How, you might ask, is the Old Year’s Resolution of any benefit? Surely clinging to the gym resolution would be of more benefit than just giving up–surely its mere presence in your mind makes it microscopically more likely that you will one day begin going to the gym regularly?
I disagree. As long as the gym resolution is on the books, so to speak, you will do one of two things: (1) go to the gym or (2) sit around feeling guilty about not going to the gym while downing Doritos and Keebler Fudge Striped Cookies like they’re going out of style (okay, that last part is just me).
By May, Option 2 has won out over Option 1. So be it. Don’t sit around signing over percentages of your paycheck directly to the Frito-Lay corporation while hoping that that old resolution will, against all odds, someday kick in–or waiting for next January.
Just ditch the resolution. It’s not working. Then do something else–anything else–as long as you’re not making a resolution to do it. Maybe today you can walk to the mailbox. Tomorrow, dance around like a maniac to some 80s music. Next day, homestead the couch all day while watching your Season 1 Lost DVDs. (No, that last part was me again). One of those things just might kick in and work, but they’ll never have a chance to with New Year’s Resolutions standing in your way.
As I mentioned, I made no New Year’s Resolutions this year, and yet for some weird reason and with no precedent whatsoever, I suddenly got addicted to working out at our apt. complex’s fitness center 4-6 times a week. I’ve done this for about 3 months, longer than any deliberate exercise program I’ve ever attempted. I’ve just been on hiatus for 2 weeks due to the worst cold in the history of viruses (virii?), but am looking forward to getting back to it.
So, what is my Old Year’s Resolution this year? I’ve resolved to stop trying to be better than I am. I realized that a lot of the stress and angst in my life is due to my continual attempts to try to be a better person than I actually am, or trying to be better at something than I am, or feeling guilty for having failed at doing something as a result of my trying to be better than I am. After 32.5 years of this, I suddenly realized that all this does is make me feel miserable and guilty and doesn’t lead to any actual improvement in myself.
What’s going to replace my attempts to be better? Well, I don’t know exactly–that’s the nature of the Old Year’s Resolution. In practical terms, I’ll hazard a guess that it means when I screw something up my response will be a shrug and an “oh well,” instead of berating myself for the screwup. In theological terms, I hope it will lead to my trusting that while I will never be good enough to meet my own exacting standards, I can trust that God is good enough to take up the slack.
Will my Old Year’s Resolution work as intended? Or will it merely relase my inner slacker/hedonist to destroy everything I’ve worked for over the years (as I stop and look around me, “everything I’ve worked for” appears to be a can full of pens that don’t write, some crockery that needs to taken to the kitchen, a Peter Fish I once liberated from church (no money in it), and a Meijer plastic bag full of assorted…papers of some sort that I probably should file. I don’t feel that I should get too stressed about the potential downfall of that particular empire).

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