Just Say No – To New Year’s Resolutions

The holidays have drawn to a close and what a strange Yuletide it has been. Life, in general, has been odd since my father passed in October, there’s just no denying it. My birthday was uneventful … which right about now – especially in my family, is a good thing. A quiet ending to a chaotic year was welcome.

Now … now, it’s that time again… when good people are expected to pledge their right arm and a sizable chunk of their self-esteem on promises they either have no intention to keep, or, through the simple human experience, fail to uphold. It’s an exhausting cycle of projected self-improvement and ultimate self-loathing.

The thing with resolutions is – they are all too often made half-heartedly and therefore easily broken. Plus, who says we have to make serious commitments to life-altering changes only once a year? Wouldn’t it be better to make adjustments as the year, and life, wears on?

Deciding on foregoing resolutions will certainly help one’s self-esteem – no resolutions made, no resolutions to break and feel guilty about later in the year month week. I mean, seriously, who needs more guilt?

Be a better person. Live a better life. Take chances. Those are resolutions worth making and would hopefully be easily kept. As for that diet or exercise regimen? Sure, make those too if you want, but just remember, promises casually given, even to oneself, are easily broken. In which case, don’t beat yourself up for it … I have no doubt throughout the coming year there will be times when you will feel the need to change some aspect about yourself or your life – seize it! For all intents and purposes, those decisions, those opportunities, they are your New Year’s resolutions, even if they come in July.

Confession Time

So, while I did not make any “true” New Year’s resolutions per se, I did make a somewhat small vow to be a better, nicer, more tolerant person by reigning in my bad colorful language (as it is directed at others, even if said persons are completely unaware of said tirades against them), especially when driving. It’s not going well. Just in case you were interested.

May Your Troubles Last Only as Long as Your New Year’s Resolutions

The holiday season is coming to an end and as always it’s a little sad that the year has flown by. We’ve eaten too much, spent too much and binged on too much spiked cider…okay, well, one can never have too much cider…the point is — now we’re at the finish line about to watch the big metal ball drop. As the clock inches ever closer to zero on 2015 my mind starts racing with thoughts of what’s to come and, more importantly, how I want the future to look.

Come New Year’s I have a pretty steady habit of falling into the inevitable pit of denial that is typically referred to as the “New Year Resolution.” Ahhh, so many grand plans, lofty goals, and stellar aspirations! You may be familiar with what I’m talking about. The affirmation that this will be the year that you stick to that fantastically slimming new diet or never waver from an unimaginably boring exercise schedule or god forbid just being more patient with all the other people in the world (yes, even the really annoying ones).

I make these plans as if the cycle won’t repeat itself and these resolutions won’t go down in flames by the second week of January. But, as history shows, while I’m awesome at coming up with these wonderful ideas, I am severely lacking in the follow through. And that’s kinda the part that counts. I’m reminded of Seinfeld… “You know how to take a reservation…you just don’t know how to hold a reservation.” The same could be said for resolutions.

So, why do we even make these hollow promises to ourselves? Why do this to ourselves year after year? More often than not, as we’re scraping the bottom of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or letting loose a steady string of obscenities at the car ahead of us who wasn’t moving fast enough to let us speed through the yellow light, we end up feeling horrible. Okay, well maybe I don’t feel too horrible about the Ben and Jerry’s — have you even tried Karamel Sutra!? Oh my god it is sooo good! Who can resist? Certainly not me.

But the point is – with resolutions; we’re once again reminded that we simply can’t always stick to all of the things we feel we have to improve upon. And maybe that’s not the point. Perhaps just acknowledging that we’re not perfect is enough of a positive step.

Or perhaps that’s just a BS excuse that’ll make it that much easier for me to watch my new running shoes collect dust in the back of the closet.

 

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Road Rage Resolutions

Every good superhero has a compelling origin story. No good guy worth his or her salt lacks a detailed and gripping road they traveled down that can explain why they are the way they are. Sometimes the origin story makes the hero the sympathetic or noble or frightening or admirable character he or she is. Same goes for villains.

I have my own origin story that can explain the “super power” I’ve come to harness with great responsibility today. And it is this power that I am hoping to banish (or at least use much less of) come the New Year. Twenty-seven years ago I was involved in the only car accident I’ve ever been in, and it wasn’t my fault. It was my first taste of someone else’s stupidity, and while I emerged from the accident alive (I won’t say unharmed), I soon realized I had become empowered with a scorching new ability: Road Rage.

I’m not talking about the road rage where I carry a weapon, jump out of my car at red lights, and bludgeon people for their traffic faux pas (although I do know that I am in danger of having that happen to me if I continue on the way I am). The road rage I harbor comes in the form of scathing obscenities, mean looks, and fingers wagging furiously in the direction of whoever provokes my ire. I see some idiot  jerk  ***hole fellow driver in front of me who turns on their blinker half a second before deciding to make a sharp right turn and the power unleashes itself, bursting forth from my throat like a harpy’s cry. A Cadillac going 25 in a 45 weaving across the lane with no clue where it’s going drives me freakin’ insane.

Sure the cathartic release I have in the moment is relieving, but I’m getting to the point in my life where I’m thinking further than those initial five seconds. What is this road rage really accomplishing? Is anyone becoming a better driver because of it? Certainly not me. And really, isn’t it actually only raising my overall stress level? More importantly, given my own questionable traffic behavior, do I even have a right to complain about what other people do?

I’m not what you might call the best driver. I know this all too well about myself. So the road rage is sort of hypocritical on my part. Still, I can’t control the evil thoughts that spring up when someone else on the road does something that makes absolutely zero sense.

I do feel a bit of remorse when—after cursing at a car that has wronged me—I see that the driver is an itty-bitty elderly person or a teen with a fresh face and an equally fresh driver’s license… and I’m thankful that they haven’t burst into flames (my wicked thoughts materializing into a reality).

So. I’m starting to think that maybe it would be good idea, spiritually speaking, if I tried to become a better person by reining in my road rage. At least a little. (Well, maybe a lot.) The first step of course would be to assume that maybe the person in the other car is simply having a bad day or a bad moment and made a little mental error, not to make me upset, but because their mind is temporarily preoccupied by something more important.

Case in point: Just the other day I was on my way to the movies. I approached a traffic circle where you’re supposed to yield before entering when there are other cars going round (so as to oh, I don’t know, avoid a collision). Well, a car happened to be going round so I slowed down to wait my turn. The person behind me immediately — and I mean immediately — starting honking at me and of course I started to yell and curse something about needing to yield at a traffic circle when there are other cars going round and how stupid did you have to be not to know that. Unfortunately, the person I was yielding to thought I was directing my rage at them and gave me this look of utter confusion that said “What do I do wrong?”

I felt horrible because they were only doing the right thing but got caught in my rage crossfire. To make matters worse, the idiot behind me went on their merry way not knowing or maybe just not caring that I was simply following the traffic rules… because that’s what idiots do. Had I taken a more calm mentality, or Zen approach, let’s say, I would have let the idiot’s (damn!) person’s rudeness roll off me and the innocent victim wouldn’t have been accidentally berated.

So this New Year’s I’m resolving to be more patient on the road. Is it achievable? We’ll see. I’m going in optimistic, but there are a lot of fools out there and I don’t know if I can bite my tongue for all of them. Fingers crossed. And mouth shut.

 

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