New Year’s Resolutions

I read this about New Year’s resolutions in the Paris Review this morning:

“One estimate suggests that almost half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and yet fewer than 10 percent successfully follow through… It might be tempting to do away with this farce altogether, but before we commit to being noncommittal about the New Year, it’s worth thinking through some of the options.”

So here’s an option. My approach to this tradition is “aim low and succeed.” Some examples from past years:

No movie theater popcorn
Only good chocolate
Learn to make better salad dressings

I’m happy to report that I was able to sustain each of these resolutions, and they improved my life by a small increment. This year?

Get more massage

I have great hopes for this. Oh, you looking for something a little more uplifting? How about this:

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Martin Luther King

Of resolutions and poetry

I have a system for New Year’s resolutions that works well for me: Aim small and succeed. I’ve discussed this before.  But to update the list, I’ve since added: drive courteously (three years ago), no movie theater popcorn (two years ago), and better socks (last year). I’m still working on last year’s resolution, slowly replacing my ragtag collection with better socks, so I don’t need a new resolution this year.

The point is that these resolutions seem to last, not just for a year, but integrated into my life–unlike the grand, doomed resolutions I used to make. Of course, I have many projects and activities planned for 2018, both personal and political, but these are not resolutions, but practice.

I am also pleased that most Mondays for over six years, I’ve found and posted a poem I like. I almost always post poems that are contemporary, or at least 20th century. But last week Larry received a packet of broadsides that included one of my favorite poems by John Donne. So here is your New Year’s vitamin. It is the opening of the second stanza that I love most:

The Good-Morrow

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
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