I resolve not to resolve

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Everybody talks about the ups and downs of New Year’s resolutions, but comments are rarely  made without somebody talking about how they’re frequently broken. One of my favorite New Year’s quotes is by Mark Twain:

“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve begun a New Year with resolutions to lose weight, clean up after myself regularly, finish that book I started a hundred times, or just be a “better person” (how vague is that one?). Time and experience have shown me that no matter what kind of New Year’s resolution I set I’m going to break it. I’m still overweight, I still leave piles of paperwork laying around, and I currently have bookmarks in no fewer than three books. The “better person” resolution? Dunno. My wife hasn’t left me yet and my kids still give me hugs, so I guess I’m doing ok there. Although that reminds me of another quote by one of my favorite dead people, Ben Franklin:

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”

I can probably handle that one. But since I hit forty this past year I should probably throw in this quote by André Gide as well:

“But can one still make resolutions when one is over forty? I live according to twenty-year-old habits.”

So anyway, I think I’ve decided not to make any resolutions for the new year. I’ll just stick with my process of trying to be a better person. But this year I’m going to do it a little bit differently. Instead of trying to eliminate my flaws I think I’m going to follow the advice of Ellen Goodman:

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

May 2012 be the year of recognized potential for us all.

Happy New Year

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