By Jeffrey Page
Do we all agree that New Years resolutions – to do things better, indeed to be better – are a waste of time? Does anyone actually follow through and keep these promises for more than a week or so?
In fact, some of us resolved a year ago to just stop making resolutions. Or at least to make them when the spirit moves us, and not wait for Jan. 1. August, after all, is a fine time to stop smoking or to be a better dad. You know what I mean.
But there is temptation in that brand new calendar tacked to the wall with all its clean little boxes to note our progress through the year. There are no erasures yet, no inky cross-outs, no canceled appointments. To look at a new calendar, like the one with the Norman Rockwell illustrations I got free of charge at the drug store, is to see a chance to start fresh, to renew hope, to tell ourselves that, damn it, this will be the year when I lose the weight, when we will call a long-lost cousin, the year that I’ll keep the promises I make to myself and others.
So while I assume you agree with me that making resolutions is just a silly exercise in wishful thinking, I must tell you I’m caught and am sitting here at my desk looking at the nice blank calendar. And sure enough, here I am resolving to do better. I’m thinking about the year just ended and the promises I forgot to keep, and I’m thinking about the year that starts today.
In so special order, here’s what I’ve decided so far.
—I’m going to try and not take people for granted. I won’t allow the curse of great distance between my friends and me to keep me from the important people of my life. I will make the effort to stay in touch, to make the phone call, to send the birthday card, to make the visit.
–I’m not a Catholic but I intend to pay close attention to Pope Francis and strive to never forget this great man’s thinking. Great? So soon into his papacy? Yes. After all, he said this: “Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor, so that they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers.”
—I will continue my relationship with the scales of Weight Watchers. This program, I think, had added years to my life. To make the program work, all I had to was take it seriously. Not always easy, but when it is worked, it works.
–I’ll remember Nelson Mandela’s walk to freedom in 1990 after 27 years in prison. I will marvel at his survival, and will wonder if I could have withstood 27 days in prison, let alone 27 years.
–I’ll remember my father-in-law’s great act of grandfatherly love when he drove from home on Long Island to our house in Sullivan County to take my daughter out for an ice cream soda. I want to repeat that with my own granddaughter, probably not this year. Will she choose chocolate? Strawberry? Does it matter?
–My admiration for Malala Yousafzai will continue undiminished. Malala is the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for the crime of encouraging other children to learn to read. She survived the shooting. She was 15; she survived. “Our books and pens are the most powerful weapons,” she has said.
–I’ll eliminate spider-solitaire from my computer because I waste entirely too much time playing this mindless game.
—I’ll offer my services as an infielder to the Mets and as a point guard for the Knicks because, God knows, both teams need me in their starting lineups.
Best wishes for a healthy and peaceful 2014.