New Year resolutions are a funny thing. They serve no purpose, because we break them as soon as we make them, and in any case, if there were some challenging resolution that would change our lives, we are surely not likely to make it in the cold light of January. For me, perhaps as a result of having been a teacher, the year starts when the balmy nights of early autumn still allow me to sit on the terrace with a gin and tonic and dream of making a better person of myself.
But try as I might to ignore resolutions of all kinds, I simply cannot, and about this time every year I find thoughts of self-improvement invading my brain. Usually, these thoughts are the same as those I had when summer last turned to autumn.
They vary from the material to the sublime, their common thread being that they vary little from year to year.
At a material level, I resolve to work harder, thereby becoming more successful and earning more money. To do so, I resolve to stop watching idiotic late-night films on television and go to bed earlier so that I will get up earlier and start work earlier. I resolve to concentrate more on what I do and stop stopping every half hour for a cup of coffee. I resolve not to repeat the same mistakes time and again, but to learn from them once and for all.
These are resolutions I should be good at, due to many years of practise, but it never seems to work out like that. It could be because the longer hours I then put into becoming less successful as the years roll by tend to have a debilitating effect on my concentration, leading to more cups of coffee and more of the same mistakes. But come the New Year and I will have resolved, once more, to improve my lot through a complete overhaul of my work ethic.
At the sublime level, I resolve to improve my mind. This also I should be good at, if practice makes perfect, but here again, reality clashes with resolve. One way of improving my mind is to learn another language, but after all these years of effort over short periods of time, I speak no more than a word or two of German, Russian, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic, and my French was better at school than it is now.
There have been other resolute forays into the sublime over the years, including the study of mythology, ancient history, Latin, Indian cooking, car mechanics and, most curious of all, the study of handwriting. An indication of my knowledge of the last, accumulated over a day or two following the making of the resolution, is that I cannot even remember what the discipline is called.
I will, of course, be making more resolutions this year, and will certainly not keep them. But who cares? Obstinacy marches to a constant beat. As Samuel Beckett said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Filed under: General by Vivion O'Kelly