Thursday, January 2, 2014

Low Hanging Fruit

Recently a notebook containing folksinger Woody Guthrie's New Year's resolutions was published and--despite the length of each list--his goals for the future appear charmingly simple: To brush what teeth he might have left and listen to the radio more. To help win the war, change his socks and "dream good".  It got me to thinking that maybe the resolutions I've made in the past did nothing more than set me up for certain failure. Like a kid jumping into the deep end of the pool with no floaties on.

Perhaps there's a way to simply get closer to the things I want without actually guaranteeing to achieve them. Proximity has got to be better than nothing and in recent years? Nothing is exactly what I've achieved.

So...instead of promising to lose 15 pounds, I should simply say that I will just try to successfully zip  any of the pants I have on.

Rather than vowing to be kind to everyone I meet I'll just aim for reducing the number of times I go "Full Metal Jacket" on people who irritate me. In short, almost everyone.

Plan for one day out of every weekend where I am not parked on the sofa wearing institutional soft pants while thinking up new Pinterest categories related to food.

Take care to check for nearby witnesses when I audibly refer to school district administrators as dream killers.

Stop looking like the Crypt Keeper will now give way to Buy some moisturizer. And then actually use it.

What I've realized is that not only is the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but that you will run barefoot down that same rocky avenue wearing kerosene pants. That means it's difficult to repeatedly make elaborate plans for your own self-improvement and then follow through.  Wouldn't limiting the scope of one's expectations--at the very least--shorten the journey? For me, Woody's intention to shave more shines like a weak but steady beacon in the night.

And the idea of starting a journal solely for recording resolutions like the one Guthrie created sounds like an admirable goal and, because I'm a teacher, the image of a fresh notebook of clean, blank pages is especially appealing. But I don't want to get ahead of myself.

And isn't that, after all,  a goal in and of itself? Judge's ruling, please!


  1. I gave up on the artificiality of New Year's Resolutions a long time ago and instead put myself on a Continuous Journey Of Self-Improvement. To be honest, I'm always trying to better myself, i.e., stop swearing so much, not drink so much, keep my weight down, not eat junk, be kinder, be more patient, hang things up and put things away immediately, etc. Some Huge Pronouncement, even silently and to myself, just makes me balk. I hate being bossed, even by myself. So, just reformat and "rebrand" (ugh) your philosophy. Little Happies add up fast.

  2. I have always been a fan of attainable resolutions. This year I resolve to do more knitting, more yoga, and not a hell of a lot else. I think I can, I think I can...

  3. I haven't done New Year's Resolutions for years, but 'brushing the teeth I have left' sounds like something I could handle. Personally, I prefer to reflect on what I've learned in the last year and work on not repeating any mistakes. For example, I am not going to impulsively acquire any more dogs ever again.

  4. I make goals--things I want to DO, but they're not necessarily lifestyle stuff. More like "experience 4 new cultural activities" and "paint 2 rooms." I guess I face a new year by looking at it as a chance to branch out more and try new things...self-improvement is so PURITAN in my view.

  5. I don't normally do resolutions, but "intentions" hit me right this year. Balance. I am going to try.

  6. With exclusion of excluding soft pants, I'm with you sister!

  7. Yes! His goals seem perfectly, wonderfully doable. I'm in.

  8. I truly loved your post over at Derfwad Manor today! It made me think of the formidable and awesome teachers of my childhood. I was a timid kid, and some of them scared the cheese out of me, but there was no doubt of the power and commitment they brought to the classroom every day. Thank you!

  9. Visiting via Derfwad Manor, love Woody and love your entry for Jan 2nd. Thanks for the inspiration.


Be nice. It's not as hard as it sounds.