I’ve been thinking about New Year’s resolutions lately. Mine usually involve something along the lines of “go vegetarian,” “exercise more,” “shrink environmental footprint,” etc., etc., etc.
“Quit swearing” has been on my annual to-do list for 20 years. This year, I actually made it all the way to July 21 with no f-bombs (and only a few of the six other words you can’t say on TV). Then we got new computers and software at the office, and after two months of remarkable patience on my part, I discovered one afternoon that “THE word, the big one, the Queen-Mother of dirty words,” was really the only term sufficient to express the true scope of my delight over the joys of trying to put together two sections of the newspaper on deadline while playing fun games like “Find the Hidden Toolbar,” “Figure Out What Top-Secret Red Button You Just Accidentally Pushed to Put That Gradient Box Around Every Object on the Page,” and “Guess Why the Macs Aren’t on Speaking Terms with the PCs This Week.”
My performance in the area of watching my mouth has been spotty since then. I want to emulate my practitioner’s Zenlike ability to remain perfectly calm and utter something profound in the face of a crisis of epic proportions. I’m not there yet. But I am trying. In the meantime, I console myself with the knowledge that I can drive from south Tulsa to Red Fork during rush hour every evening without flipping anybody off or mouthing any obscenities. So let’s call that one a work-in-progress, accept as given that I will continue to make gradual improvements in this area, and drop the silly pretenses about everything magically changing at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31.
Looking at the bathroom scale, I can see that I need to lose about 20 pounds. Maybe 25.
Looking at my house, I can see that I need to sort my files, organize my possessons, run the vacuum, buy a curio cabinet to hold the ever-expanding assortment of Route 66 detritus cluttering up the mantelpiece, repaint several rooms, and tack up the bibs I collected at my last five races.
Looking at the stacks of unread books and magazines piled all over the house, I can see that I need to spend more time reading and less time driving around aimlessly in search of ways to amuse myself while I try to think of a good reason to avoid doing whatever it is I am supposed to be doing. (Really, I should probably work on that whole procrastination thing while I’m at it.)
But I am not going to make any New Year’s resolutions about any of these things.
Instead, I am going to focus my entire attention on something my practitioner keeps hammering on: the concept of “taking no thought.” Every time I call Brad with some flavor-of-the-week crisis, he points me toward the Sermon on the Mount, and his standard M.O. involves reminding me about Jesus’ admonition to “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.” Approximately 99 percent of the problems I call Brad and whine about are a direct result of my apparent inability to apply that concept to the matter at hand.
My New Year’s resolution for 2007, then, is to take no thought. I am going to spend less time worrying about stupid stuff and more time listening to the little voice in the back of my thought that advises me to do stuff like grabbing Songdog’s leash and taking him for a jog in the pouring rain, or stopping at QuikTrip for a can of Slim-Fast and a taquito so I don’t spend my entire morning thinking about food because I skipped breakfast, or throwing out my to-do list and spending my entire Saturday afternoon curled up on the couch with this week’s Sentinel.
I’m guessing that after an entire year of “taking no thought,” I will see some changes. I expect my environmental footprint will shrink on its own as I quit deluding myself into thinking that $60 worth of forgotten organic groceries rotting in the fridge will somehow cancel out all the takeout lunches I’ve eaten out of styrofoam boxes in the past week. My waist will probably shrink as I stop eating just because it’s lunchtime and start eating when I’m hungry (and not eating when I’m not hungry). I’ll get more exercise by allowing myself (and my dogs) the childlike joy of recess. I imagine the swearing habit will fall away as my spiritual understanding grows — which is bound to happen when I allow myself to study whenever I feel like it instead of waiting for some preset time and place that sound good in theory but may or may not work out in practice.
I may be wrong. But even if I am … who cares? I won’t be any worse off than I am now. And at least I won’t have the added guilt of having broken yet another
unrealistic New Year’s resolution.
What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2007?