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I resolve not to resolve

Su Lum

When I was in seventh grade, I made up a list of 23 New Year’s resolutions, which I guess I thought would change my life for the better.I don’t have the original list anymore, but I remember some of them: no talking in class, being polite to my teachers and friends, stop swearing and a whole raft of resolutions about tidiness.One resolution that I particularly remember laboring over was “improve handwriting.”I have always had a hard time making my hand keep up with my thoughts, and the result has always been an illegible scrawl that I would hesitate to submit to a graphologist.I had received my first diary that year and on Jan. 12 I had written, slowly, carefully, beautifully, “My New Year’s resolutions are ruining my life.”All of my friends were furious that their hell-raising buddy had suddenly turned into a sanctimonious little prig, and the irony was that I couldn’t stand myself.Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the resolutions were chucked out the window and my diary reverted to my normal handwriting, looking as if a small, crazed animal had run across the pages with ink on its feet.I resolved to make no more resolutions, and I have stuck by that one.The thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they usually involve changing behavior that you really don’t want to change – otherwise you wouldn’t have put it off until New Year’s Eve to make the vow.So you start off with one big strike against you: You really do NOT want to do what you’ve promised to do. Chances are you’ll fail to fulfill the promise and then you have the guilt and that’s a hell of a way to start the new year. Why do people do this to themselves?Friends tell me that on New Year’s Eve they sit back and reflect upon their failures and achievements of the past year and consider their goals and plans for the future. I am sure it is a character flaw on my part, but the thought of undergoing such an ordeal gives me the chills.Almost all of my major life-changing events hit me – blindsided – as I was toodling down the path of life. You’re rum-tum-tumming along like Winnie the Pooh, and suddenly WHAP. The whaps can be marvelous, like falling in love when you least expect it, or finding your planet in Aspen when you thought you were always going to be an alien, and the whaps can also be devastating, taking you to places deeper than you ever imagined. The thing of it is, the earth-shaking whaps come at you from around unseen corners when you were thinking you were going in a straight line. I’m not saying that people can’t make changes or improvements, only that we can plot out an entire year in our day planners and make one or 100 New Year’s resolutions, but in the big picture we are not as much in control of our lives as we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we have.Su Lum is a longtime local who is probably rationalizing. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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