How many New Year’s resolutions have you kept over the years?
When I asked myself this question, I suddenly realized that I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions.
Rather than thinking about the year coming in, I’ve tended to focus on the one going out: What were the highlights? Family deaths? Births? Weddings? Was it a relatively good year? Healthy? Pleasant? Productive? What exactly did I accomplish personally, professionally?
So many things can happen in one year and as I get older — another thing I’m reminded of when we celebrate the New Year — I realize this more and more. I like to think back over the last year’s happenings and smile or smirk at how things turned out or raise my hands in praise when something happened better than anything I could have imagined.
One of my favorite sayings is, “Man plans and God plans…” With each passing year, I know that we can plan as much as humanly possible, but the unexpected will inevitably put our faith, patience and perseverance to the test.
It may sound cliché, but also with each passing year, I am more thankful for the love of family and a few close friends. Now, rather than thinking about resolutions, I spend time looking over my calendar and trying to plan how and when I can spend more time with the special people in my life, those who love me and whom I love, despite knowing each other’s flaws and shortcomings.
People are so busy these days, I’ve already begun making calls to see if we can plan a weekend here, a lunch date there.
I asked some of the special people in my life why we should NOT make resolutions and got some funny and enlightening answers other than the obvious one — that many of us don’t keep them.
A 30-something husband and father asked, “Why lie to yourself?” Contrary to Dr. Oz’s recommendations to tell someone else so that he/she can help you with your resolution, he added, “Why lie to two people?”
“You’ll only be hurt, disappointed or disgusted with yourself when you can’t or don’t keep them [your New Year’s resolution]. Who wants to feel like that?” This one was from an almost 80-year-old man who’s made plenty of resolutions, kept a few and broken many.
“I try to live my values daily. I’m very clear about what’s important to me at this point in my life. Making resolutions at the beginning of the year doesn’t help me live any better, so why bother?” These wise words came from a 75-year-old great-grandmother.
A woman who traveled across the U.S. alone in her 50th year said, “Resolutions are like false starts. We should always be trying to improve, eat better, exercise more, spend more time with loved-ones. So much of life is out of our control. We better know how to deal with trials and learn from them as they come.”
Surprisingly, I got this one from a 22-year-old newlywed: “ Being sincere in all we do every day is what matters. God is with you whenever you are sincere, not just on December 31st or January 1st.”
I cracked up when I was told humorously, “Are you kidding? Black folks have never been into that resolution stuff as much as white folks! All we can resolve to do is try to keep a j-o-b so we can eat, have a place to sleep and keep the bill collectors off our backs. Now, half the people in this country are where we’ve been.”
To cap things off, I should have known I’d get one of these:
“It’s 2012! Didn’t you know — the world is going to end sometime this year, supposedly next December? So what’s the point? Resolutions or not, it’ll all be over and I, for one, will be glad with this country the way it is right now.”
I wanted to say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sorry, dude, that would be too easy.”
But I didn’t.
I laughed and went on my way, thinking more reason for me to spend time with my special people.
None of us knows when, how or where we will die or when the world will end.
Hopefully, if we make each day count as long as we are here, we’ll leave the world a better place when we do go.
Turiya S.A. Raheem was born and raised in Atlantic City. Currently an English teacher at Atlantic Cape Community College, she loves to describe her neighborhood as “the other Atlantic City,” because it was not the casino-resort mecca most people know today. It was a place with a “cozy, down-home feeling” as she describes in her 2010 book, Growing Up in the Other Atlantic City: Wash’s and the Northside.
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