Well, winter break is over. Another semester begins Tuesday. Due to the emotional upheaval my family experienced, I did not get to write nearly as much as I wanted to. EC Part II stands at a mere 15 pages.
People talk about New Year's Resolutions. Every year. Lots of people, talking lots of resolutions.
I have observed two kinds of resolutions:
A) Do something better than/opposite of what I did last year.
B) Do something that I haven't been doing at all, but should have.
C) Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing because I don't bend the knee to asinine social conventions. See? I added a third item to this list when I said there were only to. And I misspelled that last word. On purpose. Because I can.
All kidding aside (not really), I find modern America's execution of resolutions laughable at best and pitiful at worst. How many times have you called up a friend to see if they're sticking with the program? My own family doesn't bother much with the whole resolution thing. We're always looking for ways to improve ourselves.
But most people make some idle speech and then forget about it. They don't mean it. It's not like we're signing a blood oath or registering them with the FBI. If that was the case, a lot of people would be in jail.
"Good evening. Today, a local man, 35-year-old Joe Blow, was taking into custody on charges of resolution failure. Mr. Blow promised to lose weight and give up dipping, but has yet to make any progress. Mr. Blow's attorney released a statement today: 'I'm really really sorry I'm still a fat slob with bad breath and tooth decay' and 'Dang, why do they have to make those chicken nuggets taste so good?'
This is not the first time Mr. Blow has been in trouble for resolution failure. His first count was in 1986, when his original resolution to 'be a better person' was rejected by the registrar as 'too vague, and likely something you weren't planning to do at all.' If convicted, Mr. Blow faces a long, embarrassing talk with his parents and will be forced to appear on Dr. Phil."
All kidding aside (for real this time)...
If something if your life is so messed up that you think employing New Year's Eve to mark a change will somehow make people take you at your word, I advise that you forget about that and fix it now.
You want to lose weight? Throw out the junk food, soda, GMOs, sugar, then fix yourself a glass of water and call the nearest gym, now. If they're open? Go down there, now.
You want to quit drinking? Empty wine cellar now.
Want to quit smoking? Buy the gum now.
Want to become a successful novelist? Quit reading this blog and get advice somewhere else, now.
The only resolution I've ever made was to continue in my resolve that I established a long time ago. Resolve isn't something you suddenly acquire, except at New Year's parties (which you shouldn't be at anyway, knee-bender).
It takes resolve to keep writing, even though my career hasn't even begun by any professional standard.
It takes resolve to keep going to college year after year, even though most people think, "Oh, history? That's so boring. You'll never make money that way. Why do you want to do that?"
It takes resolve to do anything truly worth the effort, because the amount of effort you put into something will affect the reward.
Yeah, you could use diet pills to lose weight. But you'll still be in bad shape and your body will still be used to eating all of that garbage.
You could keep drinking and die.
You could keep smoking and die.
You could waste away to nothing by watching cable TV all day, every day, like so many people in this country.
It takes resolve to be anything but ordinary. Most of the people who are famous got there by hard work. Presidents, singers, writers, soldiers, poets, scientists, inventors, etc. They started out as ordinary. There may have been an easier path, a more socially acceptable path.
But that wasn't good enough for them. Whether they were told they could be anything they wanted as a child, or they saw through the veneer of civilization of their own power, they resolved to be their own master.
That's what I resolve.
I resolve to keep writing books even if I never get published.
I resolve to make other people love history even if their peers hate it.
I resolve to seek out the enriching things of this world and this life, because they're mine (and yours) for the taking.
I resolve to live.
You should too.