Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Resolve

For me, the worst part of any "New Year's" celebration is that inevitable question:

"So what's your resolution?"

I generally bite my tongue and search for pretty words to doctor up the truth:

I don't believe in resolutions.

OK, sure, I believe in resolutions in much the same way I believe in umbrellas and speed limits: I know these things exist; I just don't like to make regular use of them.

Ditto with "New Year's Resolutions." And I apologize to anyone I might offend when I admit, in writing, what I tend to flower up with my tongue.

I don't believe in making false promises to myself. And while I find changing oneself for the better to be a noble concept... it's embarrassingly sad how few "resolutions" the average person actually keeps.

It's discouraging, in fact, and for that reason alone I don't "resolve" to do anything on January 1. That's not to say there aren't things I'd like to improve about myself or my life — indeed, that list is far more lengthy than I care to admit — but that I believe in the Nike way of doing things.

And by that I mean: JUST DO IT. Whether it's January 1 or March 15. Whether it's your birthday or a Tuesday. If you want to change something — really improve your game — you don't wait for the start of a New Year to make it happen.

Though, again, I understand why people do it. It's the notion of a fresh start for a new year. But I translate that to mean imminent disappointment. And to me there's nothing quite so disheartening as giving up on oneself.

Seems to me we waste much of our lives wishing things for ourselves that are always within reach. We make excuses, we consider. We reconsider. We procrastinate. And then, after decades of "wishing," we look back on our lives with no one but ourselves to blame for a long list of what-might-have-beens.

January 1, to me, recapitulates a million lifetimes.

***


I dreaded last night's workout because I knew it was going to be chaos. I've been working out 4 to 7 days a week for almost four years now (I started on a Thursday), and I've been regularly going to a gym of some variety for the last two (with a brief exception after last year's move).

And if a series of New Years has taught me anything, it's that a hefty chunk of Americans resolve to "get in shape" every New Year.

That's fine — if you're going to stick to it. But as January fades into February, and February into March... that annoying influx of burgeoning athletes dwindles with each passing day. And by the time spring arrives, only a handful of the New Year hoard remains.

***


I considered that last night, pacing the gym in search of cardio equipment for a sufficient cool down. There were lines for all of the equipment and — though it wasn't quite as bad as I'd expected — I found the situation to be nevertheless depressing.

It's hard to not sigh, witnessing those high hopes on their inevitable decline.

***


And I don't mean that with an air of condescension. I may work out regularly, but I honestly don't appear to be in that great of shape.

Rather, being there last night was depressing for an entirely different reason. For reasons alluded to above — if casually — in the third person.

Truth is, this isn't about them. This isn't about those other people. This is about me, and my own life, and all the changes I've failed to make.

It isn't easy: watching people who remind you so desperately of yourself, caught in various stages of hope's decay.

5 comments:

Handful Of Hell said...

Gym to me is representative of a the social cycle we always want to scale but soon realize that we are too low on the pyramid as we find people with successes sometimes dazzling and something picayune always a few echelons above. So also in the gym you are never rendered happy by how you look or how much you have worked out for there is always someone who has burnt more calories than you have or looks better prepared to skittle you off the imaginary advertisement for "ab-king-pro" that you hope you will be featured in...

And talking about resolutions, well, I belive in the adage, "Everyday is the first day of the rest of your life"...So there you go...Happy New Life

Anonymous said...

I get why it is sad. Going to the gym this time of year is insanity. I wouldn't have a problem if they stuck around. The one thing I know about change is you have to be REALLY motivated. The thing "Rezzies" don't get is that it took them a while to get where they are, it is going to take a while to fix it.

What is it you want to change about you?

I still like my resolution about Collies. :
~BPP

Academic Advisor said...

Have you considered that people also go to the gym more in January because they need to burn off some extra holiday weight? They aren't all hopeful "resolvers." Some of them have always been going, regularly or sporadically. They just make an extra effort for a few months to compensate for a little less effort for a couple of months before January. You could see it as a healthy way to deal with a situation rather than ignoring it.

However, I agree with you about resolutions in general. You can't resolve something on one day for one particular moment and believe there will be any lasting effects; external "rules" like that seldom achieve satisfactory results. Changing one's life is for every day, every moment. It takes time, patience, and reasonable expectations. You live it, not resolve it. And it doesn't really have a defineable start or finish.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

AA- Good point. I have considered those "need to work off the holiday pounds" people, but for some reason I wasn't thinking about them when I wrote this. Think I was still stunned by all of the "resolution" talk.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

So, not entirely fair of me to blame all of the increased traffic on resolutions.