A few days ago, a good friend asked me if I make New Year’s resolutions.
“Not anymore,” I replied. “The last one I really kept was in 2013.”
She asked what grand achievement I’d accomplished that year. “Craft beer,” I said.
The look on her face—maybe the same one you have now—told me I’d need to explain. I made her wait though, because I was downing chunks of freshly-baked bread like a seal being fed from a bucket. No, I did not slap my flippers. I don’t have flippers. (But if I did.) Oh, yeah. You’ll have to wait to learn metaphysical truth behind my success for a bit too.
So it’s January 1, 2019. And while everyone’s thoughts are turning toward Jenny Craig, Keto-diets and how much it costs to join Planet Fitness, my thoughts are on the past. I’m asking the question.
What have we learned, people?
Permit me to share a few of my own lessons.
Number One: There’s music in the voice of a friend—and you can sometimes hear it in a text. I laughed a lot in 2018. Cried some too. But whether I’m laughing or crying, more and more, I recognize how vitally important my friends are to me. My male buddies and I toss barbs at one another (like guys do) and discuss things like the roots of consciousness and artificial intelligence (usually while sipping good bourbon). I can hear them laughing at—um, with me—even now. And, I can hear the laughter of my female friends—one in particular, who is always smiling, even through the heartache of this past year.
It’s not really a resolution, but in 2019, I want to hear their voices more often.
Number Two: Take a risk. I did something stupid in 2018. (Probably several things!) I quit a perfectly good job. At 57, I somehow found the courage not so much to leave something as to pursue something I’d always wanted to do professionally. Yes, I have a plan—but I’m still figuring out what works. I have a little money in the bank, but not remotely enough to consider myself retired. The risk I’ve taken has resulted in some victories and some disappointments. And I probably should be more anxious than I am about succeeding. But for a long time now I’ve suspected (and now I know) that successis over-rated. Yes, I need to pay my mortgage. I definitely have to pay Blue Cross. But where I live and what my income have precious little to do with the sense of harmony and contentment I now enjoy.
I don’t really have a resolution here, either. But hopefully, I can keep taking risks. Early indications are they’re worth it.
Number Three: Don’t feed your dog hot wings. I know what you’re thinking. Oh, no he dit’nt.
Let’s just say, it wasn’t deliberate. Shooter, my three-year-old Pointer, has the capacity and determination to sniff out a stale Cheeto from thee-hundred yards. (But he can’t find the damn chew toys I give him). So when I tell you he helped himself to about a half-dozen boneless wings I inadvertently left on the kitchen counter, trust me: I bear only limited responsibility for what the ensuing events. (Thank heavens these weren’t the nuclearspice version.) You’d think Shooter would have known to stop eating when his eyes began tearing up. Or when his tongue began to recognize this might have been a choice leading to A Series of Unfortunate Events.Not my boy. He’s no quitter. I’ll spare you the details except to say he spent the next several hours pacing like a ten-year-old boy who’d missed a dose of Adderall.
So I’ve learned several important things in the past year. If I’m honest, I’m still learning several lessons. But back to the metaphysical truth of 2013. My resolution that year was to drink more craft beer. Which I did. Not because I advocate drinking, though I think Benjamin Franklin might have been on to something. But because drinking more craft beer meant I was probably spending more time with friends, less time taking life so seriously, and generally enjoying a fairly simple pleasure. That was actually harder than I expected. And though I’ve cut back on the craft beer (carbs are from the devil), I’ve gotten a lot better at living the theory behind it. Which seems pretty metaphysical to me.
Whatever 2019 brings, I’ll see you at Planet Fitness soon. I’ll be the one with wing sauce on his fingers.