Sunday, January 12th, 2014

A Riff on New Years' Resolutions

I recycle my New Year’s resolutions. And why not? Just about everything else is recycled these days- cans, bottles, jars, newspapers, cardboard boxes, plastic bags and so forth. Other things that don’t qualify for blue boxes are recycled too.

Old clothes can be sent to any number of charities. Books, records, CDs and china can be sold to second hand shops. Some people I know have discovered that even stuff that doesn’t work—“Needs new rotor arm.” “Plug needs to be replaced.” Or even, “I couldn’t fix this but maybe someone else can.”—will be picked up by someone if it’s properly labeled. And of course people are forever recycling unwanted Christmas gifts by passing them on to a friend the following year (“re-gifting,” it’s called).

The daddy of recycling efforts is the yard or garage sale. And in a way, that’s how I got the idea for recycling New Year’s resolutions. These sales operate on the premise that one man’s junk may be another’s gold mine. But if something is not sold, it’s not thrown out. Instead it’s saved to find its way into a garage sale the following year. And that’s the basic premise that underlies my approach to New Year’s Resolutions. Stated simply, even if a resolution was worthless last year it might still pay off in the coming year. A corollary to that notion is that if a resolution paid off last year, it may very well pay off again. With my system there’s no muss, no fuss and certainly no guilt. Here’s how it works.

On December 31st you take out an old shoebox that you have stored in your closet for the expressed purpose of using it as a New Year’s resolutions container. I have had mine for years and it’s labeled NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION REPOSITORY, in big, red capital letters. Next, you cut up pieces of scrap paper, one for each resolution, and you write your resolutions down, throw them into the box, close the lid and forget about them until the following December 31st. At that time, you take them out, one at a time, and decide whether or not you are going to recycle them. Here’s what happened with some of mine last New Year’s Eve.

I will not get married. Well that’s a resolution I’ve successfully kept so far. In the past I had a penchant for getting married like some people have a penchant for smoking cigarettes or hang gliding or bungee jumping- all of them potentially fatal exercises. After careful consideration, I felt this was a resolution worth keeping for another year.

I will lose five pounds. Resolutions like this seem to be a dime a dozen. I suspect most people include weight loss among their resolutions because they’ve spent the holiday season stuffing themselves to the gills only to discover that they can’t fit into their favorite pair of pants or a favorite dress they were planning to wear to a New Year’s Eve Party. Of course, resolving to lose five pounds or any amount of weight for that matter has no meaning unless you remember what it was you weighed at the time of the resolution. I had the foresight to write down that I had weighed 150 pounds. Since I was down to 148, I was halfway to my goal (okay, not quite halfway) and decided that resolution could work for another year as well.

Ironically, some of the resolutions that I have managed to keep were ones whose success was determined by other people. For example, I resolved not to say anything to my neighbor about the horrible pink color of her house and now it has been repainted a lovely, muted putty color. And when my youngest son moved out of the house I was able to keep my resolution to not complain about the decibel level when he and his friends had a jam session in the basement.

Those successes notwithstanding, I have recycled my annual resolutions to drink less and smoke fewer pipes of tobacco—both noble, if unattainable goals. And I do still want to paint the kitchen and I have every intention of putting fresh sod on the lawn and I definitely will replace the recalcitrant dishwasher in the coming year and so forth. To those resolutions, I will add three new ones. The first is to fix the eaves troughs this summer and the second is to de-clutter the house, maybe hold a garage sale. And the third, well I’ve already started on it. I’ve resolve to tell as many people as possible about the wonders of resolution recycling.


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