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Spring and Resolutions

Spring has almost arrived which means we can forget about winter and its many trials. With January and February and even March safely behind us I know that from here on in I’m perfectly safe. Nobody is going to ask me anything about my New Year’s Resolutions, what they were, how or if I am sticking to them. Good riddance to that millstone around my neck.

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve. Even more than I detest acknowledging the changing of the year (and all the implications) I detest the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. Sometimes I shake my head in wonder at the well-meaning idiot who thought up the idea to begin with. But I don’t know who it was.

In fact, I’d never even heard of such a thing as New Year’s Resolutions before my family moved to Canada. But once in the Great White North we somehow embraced this tradition – along with an added twist. On New Year’s Eve, in the depths of the unforgiving winter, you were supposed to write your resolutions on a piece of paper. Everyone’s papers were put in a box. A year later, on the next New Year’s Eve (equally as dark and cold as the one before), each paper was taken out of the box and read aloud to all present. And then the cycle repeated itself.

I don’t know where this particular resolution ritual originated. My parents must have learned it from someone. Had they mistakenly believed it was a deeply Canadian tradition and adopted it wholeheartedly in an effort to assimilate? I have no clue. To me it didn’t seem Canadian at all. It was totally out of character. Canadians were far too soft-hearted to be that mean.

Because this was a game you could never win. There were basically two strategies. You could play it safe and write down small, realistic, pedestrian goals. But then, a year later when they were read out loud, the fact that you had achieved them counted for nothing since they only served to confirm that you were a pathetic underachiever, timid, boring and sad with a small life and no imagination.

The other strategy was to go for broke, be overly optimistic and write down resolutions that were big and daring. And then, a year later, be exposed and humiliated, to have your wildest, most grandiose and as yet unrealized plans crushed under an avalanche of public derision. Guess which strategy I went with.

Thankfully, the whole annoying ritual died an unsung death once us kids left for university. The truth is nobody enjoyed it. And it didn’t help any of us step into the New Year with the kind of optimism that is so needed to launch into a future that will inevitably hold challenges totally unforeseen.

The only thing I learned is that the strangely concrete statements which manifest as New Year’s resolutions are often just the first germinations of dreams in disguise. Dreams are fragile. These “resolutions” are fluid, elastic ever evolving entities that grow and change. The calendar year, sad to say, is none of these things. So if the timeline for your own resolutions spills over the edges of the rigid, artificial twelve month box don’t let that discourage you. The moment to bloom will come. Resolutions grow and flower in their own good time – just like the joys of spring.

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