By Ken Trainor
We have arrived: 2017, a brave new world — that is to say, a new world to brave. And many are feeling none too brave about weathering what's to come. What we need most is resolve. So I went back to a column from Jan. 4, 2006 to firm up my resolve (I updated a bit):
Everybody seems to look down on making resolutions these days. Too self-defeating, they say. Setting ourselves up for failure. People feel bad enough about themselves as it is.
But, feeling contrary and defiant, I nonetheless resolve:
To be less defiant and contrary. To walk slower. To let fear rule my life less. To prepare my will.
To be more patient and understanding behind the wheel. To write something that changes someone's life ... for the better. To accept the weather as it comes and stop complaining about it. To make the best of one bad situation. To assume the best instead of the worst. To help someone feel better about him/herself.
To make someone's life a little easier. To ask for something I want. To figure out what I want. To ask good questions. To spark stimulating conversations (by asking good questions). To be a better friend. To utterly charm someone. To listen to someone I'm tempted to dismiss. To refuse to settle for less, at least once.
To read more Emerson. To read more poetry. To read more. To revive one lapsed relationship. To celebrate someone's accomplishment. To let work rule my life less. To believe in someone in spite of doubts. To make just one someone happy. To keep falling in love.
To be part of some solution. To feel humble in the presence of beauty. To ask someone to dance. To learn how to waltz. To invite more people into my home. To experience ecstasy (without chemical assistance). To have a mystical experience (without chemical assistance). To forgive someone. To ask forgiveness of someone.
To hold a baby. To spend more time laughing at the comic choreography of 3-year-olds. To write more letters. To be more conscious of tasting my food as I eat. To pay closer attention to my immediate surroundings. To be more mindful of living in the present. To keep reminding myself, "It's not about me."
To climb onto my high horse, onto my soapbox, or into my pulpit to rail against some injustice. To gently challenge someone's thinking. To weigh less at the end of the year than I do at the beginning. To see the sun rise. To view a planet through a telescope. To remind myself frequently that I am not the center of the universe.
To hear live music. To watch a film with subtitles. To attend a play or movie with friends and discuss it afterwards. To attend one opera. To see the Chicago skyline from a boat on Lake Michigan at sunset. To walk along the lakefront while I'm "off the clock."
To attend a Friday night football game at OPRF High School. To get a massage. To spend a day in a place where there is no pavement and I can't hear any traffic. To embrace the Christmas season in spite of its flaws. To add a new dish to my culinary repertoire. To focus on what's good about getting older. To celebrate what is good.
To replant my one and only plant. To savor the momentary visitations of happiness. To let laughter take me by surprise. To donate a few more dollars to worthy causes. To enjoy winter instead of simply enduring it. To learn the words to more songs so I can sing them — or at least quote them. To attend more Millennium Park concerts in the summer. To spend time contemplating great art.
To use less plastic. To use less gas. To use less. To live simply and reduce my eco-footprint.
I resolve to cooperate, collaborate, contemplate, congratulate, articulate, reciprocate, create, graduate, elevate, anticipate, innovate, relate, elate, be passionate and compassionate, and not be late.
I resolve not to implicate, complicate, excoriate, inflate, berate, sedate, aggravate, emasculate, eradicate, expectorate, exaggerate or get irate.
Most of all, I resolve to keep making resolutions.
Will I come up short? I've been coming up short for 64 years, with notable, glorious exceptions. Coming up short is part of the package when you resolve to live a fuller life. A quote from a friend the other day contends that "A winner is a loser who tried one more time."
We strive. We come up short. We keep striving. Resolutions are my way of defining the kind of person I would like to be — that I hope I am becoming in my incremental amble through life.