Last week we looked back at some of the major events that happened in your local area in the last year. This time of year many people have made resolutions, promises to themselves, and often others, that they plan to work on to better their (or others around them) lives in some way.
I have a personal promise I make to myself each year at this time and that is: not to make resolutions. Why set myself up for possible failure when life does that for me all by itself? Of course I am a work in progress — we all are — so picking a time to do that seems better a goal one would address at their birthday rather than the close of a calendar year.
I don’t set goals then either, other than trying not to cry when I realize I have to answer people with a larger number when they ask my age. This time of year instead of resolving to change, I reflect on what all life dealt me in the past 365 days and hope and pray that it only gets better, or that I’ve learned from the challenges the year just passed to better deal with what lies ahead. I pride myself for accomplishments and admonish myself for things I didn’t do that I should have — or that I did do but didn’t do in the best way I could have.
Take hiding things from myself — what I like to call “putting things up in a safe place.” I do that often and then don’t handle it well. I get frantic to find the gift, receipt, form, or what-have-you and then start blaming other people for moving it at the same time I’m asking them for help. Not a good way to handle people who are probably the only people that are going to save me from myself.
Another thing I don’t handle well is my mouth. I say things before I think, something that I could blame on my upbringing, my heritage or my genetic pool. I could blame it on the circumstances, my ADHD, or on the day’s input, but it boils down to the fact that the little voice in one’s head that whispers when to stop is instead thinking in my head the same thing my mouth is rambling — rude, inappropriate, hurtful or not.
I’m not a monster. I know monsters. I read about them in the news and see them on television. I’ve also met a few — but I do have things that I need to work on that doesn’t take a holiday to recognize in myself. I also reflect on what I did that was good and make a point to do something often — regardless of how large or small the effort. I could count my blessings like some do, but again, that’s something I do regularly so no annual event prompts it.
The New Year holiday does get me a little nostalgic. It happens when that song starts playing, Auld Lang Syne. It signifies the end of something that I was a miniscule part of — the world. And in the past year a lot has happened. There has been tragedy: crazy shooters at movie theaters and schools; suicide bombers; sinking cruise ships; fires; floods; even a hurricane.
And there has been downfall: Jason Russell of the Kony 2012 movement cracked under the pressure; sexual and political scandals (Armstrong, Petraeus, Madoff, Sandusky …. ugh, too many to list); and the rise in popularity of videos, shows and trends including the introduction of “Gangnam style,” Honey Boo Boo and the mustache invasion. Don’t even get me started with Hostess.
There have been history-making (or breaking depending on your preferences) — events like several states legalizing marijuana for personal purposes and same-sex marriage, teachers being graded for their performance and some of them picketing for their rights. There was societal acceptance of reading soft-core porn in public; Encyclopedia Britannica, announced it will no longer print volumes; an Austrian broke the sound barrier with his body; the royal family announce a pregnancy, celebrated the queen’s Diamond Jubilee and addresses a lot of skin scandals; and a Swiss scientist found what is called The God particle, revered as a key to understanding of all mass in the universe.
And, there has also been progress: a Mars landing (not really sure what the point was but to say “woo-hoo; we did it!”); and there has been joy: selflessness was shown on many occasions: an officer gave a cold man a pair of boots (let’s try not to think about what happened afterward); a young track star led her opponent over the finish line — in front of her — after she fell; a deaf girl heard for the first time with a bionic ear; and … take that Mayans; the world didn’t end!
And those things are what we need to shoot for. With every passing year there is change in the world, and as long as we are alive, we are part of it, so we have a responsibility to make it better for ourselves and others. So if you made resolutions, add a couple more. Smile. Compliment someone. Offer some of what you have. Read to a child or to a senior citizen. Volunteer to do something … anything — and make a resolution not to let the ugly outweigh the lovely in 2013.