Here’s the deal. As one of America’s premier bloggers, I am responsible for both entertaining and educating literally dozens of internet users. For instance, you may already know that there are many countries other than America (Peru, for one). But did you know that the people who live in these other countries (Peruvians) sometimes behave in different ways than do Americans? They may wear different types of clothes (Peru Shirts), they may speak different languages (Peruvanese), they might not even listen to Justin Bieber (I’m not sure why). And who said learning isn’t fun?
But there are many other countries that aren’t Peru. Such as…well, I don’t have the time or the resources to list them here….but they exist. And many of these nations celebrate New Year’s Eve in ways we could never even imagine. Just imagine, if you will, spending New Year’s in Barcelona…when the clock strikes midnight you’d be busy eating a dozen grapes! Wacky? Absolutely. Delicious? Si. Si, indeed. Now, take a quick boat drive over to Greece and join their tradition of baking a gold or silver coin into a loaf of bread. (Now I understand the Grecian fiscal crisis – they’re putting all their dough in their dough). Then, the person that gets the slice with the money wins good fortune and a trip to the dentist. Bizarre? Of course. Culturally diverse? You better believe it. Lastly, let’s visit Greece’s next door neighbor – South America. In this country, they celebrate the New Year by putting on new, brightly colored underwear just before midnight. And no one knows why.
Not that we don’t have our own strange traditions. Have you ever heard the later verses of Auld Lang Syne (literal translation, “Old Long Since,” – not that this clarifies anything). Here’s the third verse –
“We twa hae run about the braes…and pu’d the gowans fine…but we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit…sin auld lange syne.”
What is that all about? Like the mystery of brightly colored South American underwear, some questions have no answer. Only on New Year’s (or during a Bob Dylan concert) will you hear so many people singing along and having no idea what they’re saying.
But I’m sure you can see what I’m getting at here…New Year’s resolutions are ridiculous.
In Ancient Roman times (i.e. pre-1920’s), their God, Janus, was placed at the head of the Roman calendar. In addition to being the God of gates and doors (how did gates survive before they had a deity looking after them?), Janus had two faces. And, when he wasn’t battling Batman, he represented the notion of looking both backwards and forwards as the New Year begins. And, for just as long, people have used New Year’s as an opportunity to look back on the past year and make the necessary corrections for the upcoming one.
And thus it is that millions of people every year decide to lose weight, quit smoking, get organized, or in some way better their life. They wake up early on January 1st full of hope and eager to enact change. This tends to fade by the 4th or 5th.
In fact, a recent study indicates that only 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will be successful. So about one in eight will follow through on their optimistic vows….and the rest will try again in 361 days.
Come on. Who are we fooling? Enough with the resolution song and dance already. Why do we keep doing this? Would you continue to attend a college with a graduation rate of 12%? Of course not. You’d drop out. (No wonder their graduation rate is so low).
So, how am I going to do it? How will I make everything better? Well, I’m glad you asked, because I have a few ideas. (1) If you’re really serious about your resolution, don’t make a New Year’s resolution, make a New Week’s resolution. For example, on Monday, you resolve to get organized. After four or five days, you start to lose enthusiasm. But, here comes Monday again, and you resolve again to be more organized…you’ll hardly have time to make a mess. (2) Most people give up because they’re unhappy with their results. So find ways to make your results more impressive. If, for example, you are trying to lose weight, don’t measure your loss in pounds. Try ounces. After all, which sounds better – “I lost two pounds”…or…a “I lost 32 ounces!” (3) If you want to avoid the whole issue, why not make a resolution this year not to make any New Year’s resolutions? (Not recommended for scientists or mathematicians who are apt to get caught up in the logical impossibility of this option). (4) If, like me, you’ve got enough problems without adding a New Year’s resolution…and yet, the idea of a fresh start is still romantic…I offer this final solution. Make a New Year’s resolution that you can’t fail at, but also don’t have to work at…because you don’t know what it is.
I, for example, am resolving to run about the braes. I’m also resolving to pu’d the gowans fine. Will I accomplish my goals? I have no idea. But you can’t fail when you don’t know what it is you’re trying to accomplish. And someone’s got to pu’d those gowans. Why not me?