Hi, Resolution

All right, it’s time for a little bit of January heresy.

I’ve never been a big believer in New Year’s resolutions.

Don’t get me wrong. Goals are great. Commitments are wonderful. But making a big promise just because Jan. 1 happens to show up on the calendar – to hit the gym, to write the novel, to finally understand the offside rule in soccer – always seemed a little odd to me.

Why now?

Yes, I know the answer to that one, or as much of an answer as there is. The New Year’s a symbol of change. Speaking realistically, there’s very little that separates Dec. 31, 2020 from January 1, 2021. But when the date ticks over, it’s a reminder that things keep changing … and in the case of the late unlamented 2020, not a moment too soon.

So it’s natural to want to change ourselves, too. But making a change just because it’s Official Changing Time doesn’t have a great track record. As I noted last year, about 8% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them. The Broncos offensive line performs better than that.

So maybe it’s time for a different approach.

One that’s focused less on what we’d like to be and more on who we are.

I’ll explain.

I’ve learned a lot of important lessons in life, many of them the hard way. About how little control I really have over things. About living with loss and honoring memory. About taking the time to truly appreciate who we have while we have them, and the notes they bring to our common song.

Most of all, though, I have learned and learned and learned how to hope. Not the sort of dewy-eyed “Gee, maybe someday all this will get better” expectation, but a real belief that by acting together, we can make things better – which means that I can’t shirk my part of that.

Time and again, it’s been that ability to hope and that willingness to back it up with effort that have made a difference. It’s been a solution over and over.

So much so, that I’ve started thinking of it as a re-solution.
And that, I submit, is what we really need to look to in this new year.

It’s important to grow. But it’s just as important to examine ourselves, see the worthwhile things that have already grown in us, and commit to reinforcing them. Just like the plants you want to save, those solutions need to be fed, watered, strengthened.  

They’re what got you this far. And they’ll ultimately be the roots for the growth that lasts.

It’s not easy. A lot of times, it’s downright exhausting. I’ve seen my fighting hope sucked into the ceiling fan again and again, taking fresh lumps each time.

But I’ve also seen it helped build a family. A new career. A place to go to when things are at their worst, whether it’s the personal loss of a cousin or the shared loss of a normal reality.

My re-solution is still there.

And like any well-worked muscle, it keeps getting stronger with use.

That’s what will carry us through.

Resolutions help mark a change in time. Re-solutions confirm a change in life. They’re not always as simple as that promise to take guitar lessons (which I still need to do) but they undergird so much of what matters.

Find your re-solutions. Feed them well. Put them to work and don’t let up.

Who knows? Maybe when December comes around again, we’ll actually want to look forward to what’s ahead. I’m sure hoping to.

Just as long as it doesn’t involve that blasted offside rule.

Growing with the Flow

There are a lot of rough jobs in this world. Street sweeper at an elephant parade. Quality control for a parachute manufacturer. Speech coach for Bob Dylan.

But the roughest job of all may be the one inaugurated this weekend in our own backyard. Commencement speaker at a Lyons High School graduation.

Think about it.

What on earth do you say?

This is the class that saw its school turned into an island and its hometown into a CNN breaking news clip. These are the kids from the town that left town, the community that water couldn’t kill, the students who will never, ever again use the phrase “God willin’ and the creek don’t rise.”

What can you possibly tell them that they don’t already know? Especially within the tried-and-true themes of a high school graduation.

“Your entire world may change tomorrow and you have to be ready to change with it.” No kidding.

“Think back to when this school year began…” Um, maybe not.

“Be part of your community and ready to give back.” Can we get back to you on that? We’re running late to a Lyons Strong event.

Let’s face it. Life lessons have not exactly been in short supply around here. Once you cross off everything that the St. Vrain Flood made redundant, you might as well just give everyone two Dr. Seuss quotes, one proverb from Mr. Rogers, and then pass the paper and toss the hats.

After all, if you can’t listen to a 20-minute speech that might change your life (see vendor for details, satisfaction not guaranteed, void where prohibited), then what’s the point of a graduation ceremony?

OK, you can stop laughing.

No, I don’t remember the speech at my graduation. I’m betting you don’t, either. Commencement speeches have been pretty much fired and forgotten ever since David addressed the Israelite class of 1020 B.C. (“In a world of giant obstacles, sometimes life really rocks!”)

They don’t stay with us. They don’t need to. Deep down, every senior knows the real theme of every graduation since the beginning of time. And it’s one that might as well be an LHS class motto.

We survived.

We survived homework, exams, pop quizzes and the worst indignities our teachers could inflict.

We survived our own stupidity, our social life, and that moment with the lasagna in 10th grade that no one would let us forget.

And now, this senior class can say, we survived a flood that would make Noah look for a nice place in the Andes.

We outlasted. We persevered. We made it.

Even in the face of the worst that nature could do.

Between you and me, I think every school in this area should have a Lyons High School grad as a commencement speaker next year. These are the masters of disaster, and if anyone knows how to take the next step into an uncertain world, it’s them.

But then, it’s not really something you can say, is it? It’s something you do. Something you pass on by sheer, stubborn example.

And that example is now on stage for everyone to see.

Congratulations, seniors.

You survived. And then some.

Good luck to all of you. And mind the elephants on the way out.