So, I'm not opposed to reflection (I'm a writer-- I LOVE reflection, especially when paired with the modifier "self") but rather I admit; I hate the way the 31st of December has been marked as the end of one era and the beginning of the next. As I write these lines, those who produce diet plans and offer gym memberships are wringing their hands in anticipation of the onslaught of New Year's Resolutioners who have decided to step into the abyss of 2011 a new wo/man. Or the companies which sell patches laced with nicotine for the myriad smokers who want to make 2011 a puff-free year are gearing up for record sales come 1/1/11. So what's my deal? I'm opposed to neither goal. By all means, get in shape! Kick your bad habit! Carpe diem until you can't carpe diem anymore.
But therein lies the rub as Monsieur Shakespeare would say. Seize the day, carpe diem means. Not Seize December 31st. Seize the day. Each day. Each moment. Hold it. Live it. Breathe it.
I didn't start running again because of a New Year's resolution. I didn't apply to writing programs because of one, either. I suppose because it has always seemed silly to me to withhold my desires for one day a year... why wait to do what you want to do if you can do it now? If you want a new body, well, what's stopping you from working for it today? If you want to stop smoking, then take that first step... now. Putting off a dream is not living it. And not living it means you're still thinking about it and probably are unhappy because you lack what you want. Why not have what you want and leave the lacking to someone else?
Maybe that's the brat in me talking, but it seems to make a sort of sense, or more sense than all these ads I hear on the radio and see on the television (which I watch while I do my core exercises. That way I get stronger while remaining somewhat connected with the world outside.) Perhaps people need a ceremony of sorts to kick of a lifestyle change (and nothing is quite like a drunken sendoff, something nearly everyone learns on the eve of their 21st birthday). But I wonder: Why 2010 versus 2011? Why not now versus then? Is it less meaningful to change your life on say, July 14th than it is to change it on December 31st? I think it would be more meaningful. Just think: if you had made that positive life change back when you started hankering for it, you'd be ready for another change right now! So that's two goals in the space of one calendar year in lieu of just one.
I've got resolution on the brain, however, for a reason. Despite my little rant, this time of year (sigh) does make me think about the parts of my life that are lacking. Parts I don't think about much because I'm busy running miles, writing papers, reading books and setting small kitchen appliances on fire (not purposefully. But it happens.) I should take my car in to the mechanic even though I know he'll make me fix things that aren't broken. I should organize my books alphabetically in the office. I should revise my novel. I should find a part time job. Why don't I do these things? Well, to be brutally honest it's because I'd rather be running miles and writing. I don't need a resolution. I need resolution. Or, to use a more common word, self-discipline. And guess what? Discipline comes from practice and practice comes from living your life a certain way day in and day out. There's no easy fix, and no "make one wish and your dreams come true." The important things in life take years to accomplish. As they should. You hold on to them tighter that way.
But all that being said: Hippocrates makes a useful counterpoint. Change isn't something we fight, exactly. Change is all around us, constantly. The world is based on change. The change of seasons, of days and the hour. He wrote that one can never step into the same river twice; and so it is with life. Resolutions are silly because it is the nature of existence to change. You will. It is inevitable. I am not exactly the same person I was last year at this time. I have changed. My home as changed location. My job has changed from selling clothing to attending graduate school. My cat has grown larger. My bank account, smaller. The love inside my heart for my family has just about exploded. And, for now, I'm running.
That too, I know, will change. But my resolution-- or discipline-- is that I won't stop. Not now, at least. I have a marathon to qualify for. A life to live that demands each and every day be seized, loved and as it passes into oblivion, released.
And most importantly, remembered.