My birthday is in early January, and because I am a procrastinator by nature, or perhaps just a slow study, I never make a New Year’s resolution until I am staring my personal new year in the face. For many years, the kinds of goals I set for myself were all the dull things that one feels one ought to do: exercise, make a will, organize the photographs, complete a children’s story…and all were firmly abandoned by February.
The morning of one birthday during a period of my life when I had a busy but amusing job in the textile business as well as two entertaining little children at home, I sat at my desk staring at a list of dull self-improving gestures trying half-heartedly to identify the one that would be worth the trouble. I slept very little as it was and didn’t have time to add any of these demanding tasks to my list. Which would be less taxing, to organize the family photos or go to a gym twice a week? How about once a week – or once a year?
My best friend did not have a job as such, but was already launched as a fashion historian, and worked on her own schedule. She had offered to meet for lunch, or suggested some scintillating outing more often than I had accepted recently. My excuse was always based on the pressing but vague feeling that there was too much to do at home and office for me to do anything but race, always late, between one and the other. In a brief moment of brilliant clarity I tossed the list in the garbage and resolved to “Hang around with Caroline more”.
An unmitigated success, my spirits rose immediately. Since I always have lunch with her on my birthday, I was beginning my new year on the right foot! I looked ahead to a year of jolly shared meals, drinks and various snacks sandwiched in between work, gallery visits, trips to the park or pediatrician with my little ones and out of the way shopping expeditions. I don’t think I let my cheerful resolution lead me to neglect my work or babies or anything else for that matter, but rather only to alleviate any guilt at allocating proper attention to my excellent friend.
A few years ago, I had equal success with “Don’t be late!” Chronically behind schedule for the first many decades of my life, I was sick of hearing myself explain the chaotic chain of events that led to my tardiness. I am still astounded at how much longer it takes to live in a world where I don’t keep people waiting – much longer than the amount of time that I was usually late. Now I work backwards from the desired arrival to establish a departure deadline and try to resist the impulse to fit in one more little task before I leave the house. The brevity of the three word mantra helped too.
This year I mulled over a variety of notions designed to produce a better me. Although I am no longer chronically late, I never get as much done as I plan. Perhaps “Don’t Procrastinate!” would be the right decree for 2015. The short admonishment had a cheery ring to it, but it lead immediately to, “At what should I not procrastinate first?” Find new place to live. Identify new homes for my great grandmother’s beautiful spinning wheel, a huge photographic enlarger and some paint ball guns. Sell the car of one of my children. It quickly turned into one of those numbing lists.
Trying to keep it specific, I considered, “Learn to make beurre blanc!” That would improve life considerably, both for me and anyone within dinner party range, but might result in the loss of my husband’s new more slender silhouette if kept up consistently for a whole year. It could get dull as well, delicious as it is. “Learn to Tango” is another appealing goal, and said slimmer husband did arrange for lessons as a Christmas present. If I’m already taking lessons though, how much of a resolution is required here?
The answer came to me a few mornings ago as I recalled a bit of guidance I tried to pass along to my son this past autumn. He graduated last spring, and as he prepared to launch himself into the world – on the other coast and without a job – he abruptly stopped drinking beer and took up coffee. “I kind of like it; and I have a lot to do!” he said. Soon he was rattling around in the middle of the night and talking too fast.
“Make really good coffee, and drink less of it,” I advised. We threw away the nasty looking orange bag of ground coffee that he’d found at the back of the freezer and I gave him a fresh bag of Café Holland beans and an Aeropress. “After a few days you can switch to Café Suisse, Café Svenska, Café France and Café Italia and decide which you like best. Do something you enjoy and do it well; the rest will fall into place.”
So taking my own advice, I solemnly resolve to drink freshly ground, properly brewed MOKK-A each morning, and Tango my way through 2015. I’m assuming the house, the spinning wheel and the paint ball guns will all fall into place.