Across the world, running shoes are waiting patiently in the dark depths of cupboards, whispering to each other that their time has come: not for the end of the world, but for the chink of light meaning that they will be hauled on to post-festive feet and taken out for a run a year after their purchase. The local vineyards will shortly be taken over by squads of red-faced and lycra-clad sportifs puffing uncomfortably along in their sale-price Nikes as their iPods set the pace. Then their numbers will rapidly dwindle, until the last running shoes return to the cupboard and await either a charity-shop hop or next year’s harvest of unattainable resolutions.
Running, swimming, smoking, drinking …. We are fast approaching the date when the human race tries to out-do itself, deciding to take up this and give up that. Sports trainers and nicotine patch manufacturers will shortly be rubbing their hands in glee across the globe as the number of miraculously motivated, gullible pigeons triples overnight.
How on earth did we dream up the daft idea that the New Year would give us the motivational wherewithal to give up smoking/lose 20 kilogrammes/get healthy/put the keys away in the right place and otherwise totally change overnight? Apparently the Babylonians were the first to imagine the impossible, and the human race has been deluding itself on an annual basis ever since.
I could, of course, resolve to wake up as a whole new woman on the first of January. A new, improved version of MM : an updated, organised model sporting the female equivalent of fully-chromed bumpers and leather seats, and ecologically fuelled by organic vegetables and cod liver oil.
Imagine MM as the new, Swiss army knife-type of mater familias who achieves everything with a smile and still has time to pop out for a facial and make herself beautiful for her other half’s arrival. Sounds dubious, but let’s imagine, just for a minute. Let’s reverse all my inadequacies.
You know the type. She deals with bills as soon as they arrive, and files the evidence away within the hour rather than stuffing it into a drawer and forgetting about it. She does not consider lifting a beer glass to her lips every evening to be a regular sporting activity. She has a strict food budget for the week that she never exceeds, yet feeds her brood on balanced meals that would turn Jamie Oliver green with envy. She rigorously applies a weekly timetable that includes cleaning the fridge and ridding the car boot of smelly dog’s hair. A perfect mother, she never gets tempted by the fascinating depths of a book or WordPress to the extent that she forgets the washing machine full of soaking clothes until it is discovered by an indignant teen wearing loud lycra underpants at 6.30 the following morning. She looks like a woman rather than a combination of a Yeti and Freddy Mercury, does not leap with joy at the sight of a pair of leather boxing boots in a charity shop, and can survive more than 30 minutes in a pair of high heels without swearing and slinging them into a corner. She hasn’t poked her fingers through her tights since she was at school and never has her skirt hem hooked in her knicker elastic on her way out of the loo.
The list goes on and on. But if I woke up like that, I think that my family would be nonplussed and even scared by the transformation. And it definitely wouldn’t last long, simply because it’s not me, but rather the way I think people expect me to be. It’s no wonder that resolutions don’t work.
So does this make resolutions a no-go zone, given that so many people set their sights so high that they are sunk before they even begin? Maybe not. Maybe we should see this in a more philosophical light: Every journey starts with a first step, and each day is a journey in itself. Taking one day at a time could therefore be the key to success for realistic aims, and is easier to deal with than the words « never again ».
So this year I will continue being realistic, both about myself and others. Being happy is a long-term project. Forget taking up sport or losing weight; I will settle for just being myself. I’ll take things one day at a time, because you never know what life will dish up for you tomorrow, and small bites are easier to chew. Enjoy the smallest things that don’t cost a penny, like watching my family on the beach. Listen to my gut feelings, but look before I leap. And last but not least, I’ll take care of those I care about, but look after number one too, because as my grandma always said, « no other bugger will do it for you ».
What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions?
The last thing I have to say on this post is to wish you all a happy, healthy and fulfilling year, and thank you for keeping me company in the WordPress world.