I love driving by my local gym the first two weeks after the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s. For the first week, the parking lot is dotted with an amalgamation of SUVs and sedans, all vacant with their owners standing in line for treadmills in crisp new workout clothes. During the second week, the red Hyundai has disappeared from sight and the silver Audi will never be seen again. Gradually, the rest of the cars follow this solemn pattern of erasure.
Resolutions: a funny little trick that makes our minds believe we can suddenly alter the chemistry of our brains with the passing of one day.
If you were to call me a cynic, I would have to agree. Just the other day, I grabbed an iced coffee with a friend and mulled over the hilarity of the human race. We believe in such sentimentality as the clock beckons us into a coming year. How gullible we are.
If laughing at the palpable failure of resolutions in a gym parking lot is cynical, so be it.
I derive a sense of safety knowing that my life remains unaltered by the passing of time. Believe me, I celebrate New Year’s and my birthday within the same 72-hour time frame. With the tick of the clock, I still remain responsible for events of the past. Friendships remain faltered, applications remain untouched, and I carry the weight of whatever thoughts and feelings plagued me in the prior year.
January 1 is really no different from December 31, except the morning of the former typically ensues a foggy memory of the latter’s night.
This affliction to the concept of New Year’s Eve did not always stain the holiday season though. In fact, New Year’s Eve used to be my favorite holiday. I loved the poppers, the slippery confetti and the glasses that somehow bent to create eyeholes in two different numbers each year. I especially loved the novelty of staying up after the sun came down. But whenever someone asked me about resolutions, I seemed to always come up short.
I guess there were certain areas of life I wanted to improve upon. In third grade, I wanted to ace my RocketMath times tables, and in fifth grade, I wanted the boy I played kickball with in PE to like me. These were not resolutions, merely empty wishes that I never envisioned myself actually pursuing.
Looking back, I have no clue why I lost every vision of the future beyond a math worksheet or flirty glance at shortstop. Maybe it was a general apathy towards introspection, or maybe it was the prospect of failure that would appear as the next New Year’s Eve crept up on me.
Making promises to oneself can be upsetting. They can cause stress and disappointment when not achieved. Why would I voluntarily introduce metaphorical assignments into my life that contained no guidelines on how to reach maximum success? As our own harshest critics, I fear that nothing we do could ever be enough for the lofty goals we put forth for ourselves. I fear that the entire basis of what a resolution constitutes may be entirely lost on the global population’s innate need to overachieve.
Upon reflecting on these musings of change whispered in my ear, I wonder what a resolution actually is.
I don’t view resolutions as checkboxes, but rather self-reflective pauses throughout the glittery late December dusk.
It is not in our nature to exit our shell of regrettable habits completely, those same habits punctuate our lives with character. It is, however, in our nature to recognize those habits and adapt to the growing calls of self-realization and thought.
Resolutions do not indicate a betrayal of the past, but more of a betrothed brighter future. In your resolve to resolute throughout 2023, strive for glimmers of improvement, rather than bold flashes of drastic change.
Hope is a powerful thing, so much so that it is often hope that dies last. We require aspiration to move forward, and if a seemingly random date is what drives that gentle push, maybe it serves some immeasurable purpose.
While my cynicism remains to diminish New Year’s to a foolish hope of sameness, I have begun to see the unique light hope has. Resetting our brain clocks might as well follow the drop of the bejeweled Times Square ball, because we owe it to ourselves to concentrate a time on self-improvement.
As the rain descends upon the Bay Area, I find myself sitting inside making resolutions of my own. Small-course corrections that will ultimately feed into a version of me that is not necessarily the best, but a version of myself that makes me happy.
Read more, schedule less, go on walks or maybe even pick out an outfit to wear in line for the treadmill.
If only one car remains in that fateful gym parking lot in time for the next New Year’s Eve, the concept of resolutions has succeeded. Someone found strength in the beauty of change and that is powerful.