Resolution or No?

The force is strong… that force that pulls at each of us as every old year presses to a close and the new year rockets toward us at breakneck speed. Of which force am I speaking? Well, I’d have thought the title would give it away, but okay: I’m speaking of the force I am calling “resolution pressure.” It’s like peer pressure, actually, but really, it doesn’t matter if your peers are making a resolution or not, at the end of the year, this force weighs on each of us to make a resolution. Make a change! Improve yourself! Make 2014 better than 2013! Do something with your life! Be successful! Lose weight! Get healthy! Quit smoking! Be nicer to people! Read more books!

Whatever it is, whatever resolution you feel pulled toward, make it count. Do not just resolve to get healthy and give up on January 6. Don’t start wearing the patch and then casually pick up a box of cigarettes at the convenience store. Do not approach days 1-4 with sweetness and light and then buckle at the first sign of frustration. In the words of Nike, “Just do it,” (is that even their slogan anymore?). Do not make a resolution that you cannot possibly live up to, no matter how tempting it is. Be practical, of course, but if you are going to make a change, just do it.

I have heard people say, “I don’t do resolutions, but this year I’m…” Nice try, but newsflash, that’s a resolution. If you feel better not calling it that, well that’s okay. If you are making a decision on January 1 to change something in your life for the better, yep, that’s a resolution. Maybe it’s not very specific, maybe it’s something you’ve been meaning to do anyway, but regardless of your reasons or what word you use, it is still a resolution. There was one year, I think, when I said I wasn’t making a resolution–maybe it was last year because I cannot even remember last year’s resolution–but then I did. In the SAME BLOG POST. Pathetic. It’s a resolution. So this year, rather than play semantics, I’ve just decided to give in and go with the crowd. I like having a goal, anyway. And what better time to declare one than at the start of a new year?

When I thought about what my resolution would be, a quote from Meet Joe Black came to mind,

“You have to try, because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.”

It’s actually part of a much longer quote from Anthony Hopkins’ character about the importance of passionate love in life, but this last part has always stuck with me. My only real resolution this year is to try new things, especially if I don’t think I will like them. I am the type who assumes they don’t like something simply because it is popular not to like it. I said for the longest time I didn’t like sushi, and then I met my husband who took me to many sushi restaurants before I actually gave it real a try (my very first attempt at sushi years before literally left a bad taste in my mouth). And guess what? I loved it. I love it maybe more than he does now.

So far, it is January second and I’ve tried exactly nothing I wasn’t already planning to try. I don’t want to force the issue, though. When things come up, so long as it doesn’t violate my pescetarianism, compromise my health and well-being (or that of anyone else), and is not illegal or in some other way a violation of my own moral code, I vow to seriously consider giving it a try. I realize that is heavy on the caveats, but it’s not as if I can try veal for the first time this year or start base jumping just because it’s something I assume I wouldn’t like. Veal really compromises almost all of those caveats. And, er, the very idea of base jumping terrifies the living hell out of me and I’m fairly certain it doesn’t exactly fit in with maintaining my well-being.

Like last year, I have also decided on a word of the year. This was a concept my friend Emma (brilliant lady that she is) introduced to me. I wasn’t overly successful in implementing my word last year: CALM. In fact, that’s more often how it appeared in my mind during tough times, in uppercase letters and bold: C A L M! 2013 was anything but calm. Dealing with a new baby, my oldest son’s diagnosis, and a major move from Germany to Pennsylvania (for two months), and then on to Little Rock, Arkansas (for the foreseeable future) brought much stress into our lives and sometimes, we freaked out a bit. However, the word came to mind each trying moment and that reminder did, I think, help me calm down much more rapidly than if I hadn’t declared it my word of 2013.

This year, we’re continuing to work on our “calm” and intermingling “JOY.” This may be an easier task, there is so much joy in my day already with my two little guys when they wake up and give me a bright beaming smile or giggle out loud about something silly. Or with my big guy when he gives me a kiss as he returns home from work or we snuggle on the couch to watch fascinating television together. I just want to appreciate these instances more and stop to reflect, even briefly, on other moments that may bring joy. I want to look for joy even in moments that do not seem particularly joyous. I just feel like, for most of us anyway, our lives are what we make them. We can choose to see a whole lot of trouble at every turn, or we can roll with it and, in the words of the endlessly fascinating Buffy character Faith:

“Find the fun.”

So that’s what I’m going to do: find the fun. Except that I’m calling it joy because it just sounds classier.

Try.

Joy.

I can do this. Here’s to 2014!