This year, I resolve to be irresolute.
OK, I’m being a little bit of a wise guy. But only a little bit. After all, we have the New Year coming up. And next to drinking, partying, and lying about staying up until midnight, the most popular New Year’s activity is the Oh-So-Solemn Resolution.
“This is the year I lose 30 pounds.”
“This year, I’ll finally write that novel.”
“It’s time I learned to play guitar.”
“Aliens are out there, and I’m going to catch them on camera.”
Well, maybe not that last one. But this is Boulder County, so one never knows.
About 45 percent of Americans make at least one New Year’s resolution, a recent study found. About 8 percent actually keep them. I’ve been part of both groups. If I kept every New Year’s resolution I’d ever made, I’d cook like Julia Child, play guitar like Andres Segovia, and have more New York Times bestsellers than Stephen King. (Oddly enough, one of the resolutions I did keep – to lose weight – was a springtime promise, made long after Baby New Year had been put down for a nap.)
In a way, it’s understandable. When a resolution is made because you feel the need to do something, more often than not it gets done. When a resolution gets made because you know it’s the Official Time To Make Resolutions … well, you get a lot of resolutions and not much else. It doesn’t mean they won’t get fulfilled eventually, but without a conscious need, Life Happens.
So, I want to try something a little different as we approach the boundary line of the year. Rather than look forward and make a promise, I want to look back and learn a lesson. When I do that, two things jump to the top of the curriculum:
1) I have no idea what lies ahead.
2) I can’t do it all myself.
Number one may seem too obvious to mention, but 2015 pounded it home in a big way. This was the year I got my first-ever leads at the Longmont Theatre Company, including one in a show I never tried out for. It was the year that Heather first learned she had MS and the year that I first met the power of migraines. We had to work out new rules for life, even as we kept on with what we already had: the wonders of Missy, the wrinkles of a new job, the joys and stress of a family wedding.
And thus – number two. The Ringo Starr lesson: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Maybe the hardest one of all for me to learn, year after year after year. But no less essential for that.
I can’t do it all. I want to. Heaven knows I try to. But until science discovers full-body human cloning and does away with the need for sleep, there’s simply no way that I can be everywhere I’m needed doing everything that needs to be done. As I’ve said here before, I hate not having control – and I know that any of it I think I have is an illusion, subject to revocation without warning.
That means I have to ask. And to accept. And to be grateful. Friends and family and co-workers have all been there at different points to make things happen. I’ve still taken on more than I probably should, partly because I’m stubborn, partly because friends and family and co-workers can’t be everywhere, either. But they’ve been a lot more “everywhere” than I could ever be alone.
So I’ve learned partnership. And pacing. And even just taking care of myself; the hardest thing for any caregiver to learn, really. Vital, though. If your own foundations aren’t solid, how can you support anyone else?
Those aren’t bad lessons to jump into 2016 with. Be ready to be surprised. And don’t meet those surprises alone.
Maybe those are resolutions of a sort. And with a year of learning behind them, maybe they’ll be easier to keep.
But easy or hard, it’s time to turn the page.
Class is back in session.