NEW YEAR’S resolution No. 1 for 2018? Same as in 2015, 2016 and 2017: Cross the new Johnson Street Bridge on the day it opens.
Resolution No. 2: Be more considerate. Don’t put the empty milk jug back in the fridge, replace it. Anything under half an inch counts as empty. Same goes for toilet rolls.
Resolution No. 4: Keep up with technology/the Joneses.
“We need to understand the difference between want and need,” she replied.
For many years, long after the rest of the world had gone to flat screens, we got by with a television so old it appeared to have been plucked from The Flintstones. It was coal-fired and crank-started, had more snow than May Day in Winnipeg. The channel numbers appeared in Roman numerals. Every so often Stanley Burke would appear to read the news in black and white.
The screen was so small that if I wanted to check the score of the game I would have to lean in close, just like that little girl on Poltergeist, until my eyebrows crackled with static electricity. That’s what made the change so jarring when, just in time for the Vancouver Olympics, we replaced that television with one whose 42-inch expanse was almost twice as large.
“It’s too big for the room,” she said.
“There would be more space if you left,” I replied, helpfully.
I loved our new television, would gaze at it for hours, buy it gifts, take it for long drives in the country.
But now my friends have just purchased a 2018 model that dwarfs ours. This techno-marvel is the size of an Atlantic province, so big that it has its own area code and zoning bylaws. The remote has more buttons than a wedding dress, is more complicated than Iranian politics, is harder to understand than the American voter. This television has an OLED display, 4K resolution, built-in Bluetooth, Blu Ray, death ray, Star Trek teleportation capacity and a Holley four-barrel carburetor.
“It will change your life,” my friends said.
“But I like the life I have,” I replied.
They shook their heads, smiled sadly. “No. Your life is not good enough.”
This is the problem at this time of year, when we are urged to assess and, consequently, change our realities. If Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have and who we are, New Year’s resolutions are about feeling bad about what we don’t and who we aren’t.
Resolutions are about what is lacking. They are about not being fit enough, rich enough, attractive enough, ambitious enough, accomplished enough. Resolutions are less about being imbued with determination and hope than they are about being hobbled by regret. (Pro tip: If your spouse looks at you on Jan. 1 and blurts out: “Mother was right, I shouldn’t have settled,” you might want to stop clipping toenails at the breakfast table.) Resolutions are about looking in the mirror and seeing faults so deep the doctor takes your blood pressure with a seismograph.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we carried through with our self-improvement promises, but most of us don’t. A commonly cited statistic says just eight per cent of people stick with their resolutions. Psychology Today estimated one in five of us will have pulled the ’chute by this coming Monday, our resolve having disappeared faster than an election promise. Then we feel even worse, our deficiencies compounded by failure.
Me, I prefer to give up on Jan. 2. This is less about the spirit being willing/flesh being weak (frankly, my spirit is pretty weak, too) than it is efficiency.
If you’re going to quit anyway, might as well get it over with and go first. That is what I call true leadership.
It has been suggested that instead of abandoning my guns altogether, I should try aiming lower. Achievable goals, like eating a few more vegetables (pro tip: french fries are a vegetable) or refusing to grow bangs. Forget getting more exercise, just watch more action films. Stop putting my parking tickets under Les Leyne’s windshield wipers.
And if things still fall short, don’t worry about it. To quote Jack Handey of Deep Thoughts: “Broken promises don’t upset me. I just think: ‘Why did they believe me?’ ”
Jack Knox is a born-and-raised Kamloops lad who once worked at the Kamloops Daily News. He is now a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. Since joining the Times Colonist in 1988, Jack has worked as a copy editor, city editor, editorial writer and editorial page editor. Prior to that he was an editor and reporter at newspapers in Campbell River, Regina and Kamloops. He won the Jack Webster Foundation’s City Mike Award for Commentator of the Year in 2015.