The nature of Resolutions.
I am not talking strictly about New Year’s Resolutions, although they certainly fall into the same category. I am talking about any resolution made by a hopeful and optimistic person wishing to change their life for the better. (Specifically, me. And I suspect, many others, if my observations are correct.)
See, here is how it usually (always) works. I have a great idea! I am going to (fill in the blank) every day from now on! It will help me get my life organized, I will feel more confident and happy, I will have more energy, I will gain experience and practice, I will etc. & etc…
Sound familiar? I am sure most people, at some point in their lives realize that there is something that they could be doing to improve themselves. Except for those whose own gaseous emissions do not carry an odor of course. Those folks are already perfect and have no need for silly resolutions to improve. Of course.
But the rest of us, with all of our silly faults and follies. What do we do when we are suddenly faced with the weakness of some facet of our personality? Why we Resolve To Change! (Hereafter referred to as RTC, in homage to my love for acronyms.) This RTC comes in many forms, but is always an idea to make our lives and our selves better by changing something about our lives or our selves and making the change permanent. Except it never is. Permanent I mean. Examples? Sure!
I take the kids to a park. It is an awesome playground we call the “Choo-Choo Train Park” because of its railroad theme. The kids love it, especially playing tag among its labyrinthine structures. So I start chasing them. Or running from them, depending on who is “It” of course. This goes on for less than five minutes. At which point, I sit down panting for breath and realize that I am seriously having a hard time breathing. My heart is pounding, and I can feel a serious headache coming on to boot as my head begins to pound in concert with my heart. The kids say: “Daddy, you’re It! Come and get us!” I wave a hand weakly, not enough breath to even explain that Daddy is afraid that he is about to collapse to the rubberized walkway and have himself a well deserved heart attack. Wouldn’t want to scare the kids anyways. Wow! I am seriously out of shape! When did this happen? It has been a long time since I could run two miles in under twelve minutes, in fact has been a very long time since I ran at all. I need to get in shape…
See! There it is! That moment of realization. I AM NOT PERFECT! I have a flaw! (OK, so this is not really news, most of all to me.) I need to do something about it! Right away, before my hypochondriacally inspired belief in a pending cardiac event becomes reality. OK, so I need an exercise regimen! A brand-new (recycled) RTC!. Past RTCs have included getting up early each morning to take a walk and going to the gym with a friend after work each day. Both RTCs went well for a week or two. Then, real life interferes and the RTC goes away. My heart, and my dogs groan in disappointment. (The dogs because they no longer get to poop on strange lawns in the pre-dawn darkness.) The RTC was nice while it lasted (Except for the gym thing. That just made my body hurt.) but they are now over. My fitness level came up for a week or two. I found that I had more energy and motivation. I enjoyed life more. Why did the RTC fail? What was the tipping point that sent me back to my couch potato ways? Well, in this case it was a baby who refused to sleep. Getting up five or six times in the course of the night makes it hard to get up in the morning. So when the alarm goes off, I say to myself: “Not this morning. I can’t get up this morning. I need my sleep so that I can be functional at work. I will walk twice as far tomorrow.” The alarm is turned off, and I go back to sleep. This is the death knell for an RTC. The first failure to stick to the new RTC is like the torpedo that finally impacts the hull of the ship just below the waterline. The ship is not instantly destroyed, but begins taking on water and listing slightly.
The next morning, I may have gotten enough sleep, but I remember how much trouble it is to get up, get dressed, find my shoes (why do the kids have to carry them all over the house?) find the leashes for the dogs (ditto on the kids carrying stuff question here.) dig up a couple of used grocery bags to contain the inevitable poop deposits on that very desirable strange lawn, then go out the door. Or, I could roll over and get another half hour of sleep. Hmm… in my half conscious state, the decision is deliciously easy.
So dies another RTC. The ship fills with water and capsizes. There may be a valiant last battle to save it. I might even go walking a few more times. But each time I am reminded of what a pain it is, and how nice it would be to just stay in bed. Nonetheless, the RTC is dead. As a doornail, to borrow an old cliché.
So here is one of those last death spasms. My RTC to pound out a thousand words a day and post to my blog is listing hard, the sump pumps unable to keep up with the rushing water. The holiday season impacts like another torpedo, and the hull begins to crumple under the pressure. Will the sailors be able to right the ship in time? Can they beach her before she capsizes?
Is it really possible to change one’s life for the better? Or is it all we can do to not regress and drift backwards?
I’ll think about it the next time I go for my morning walk…
Thursday December 14, 2006 - 10:08am (EST)© 2006 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved