Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sometimes all you need is one small change

Lately I’ve been feeling as if people around me are cheerleading in a kind of Paul Revere fashion as the hours close in on another year. Their excited chant: “The New Year is coming! The New Year is coming!”

These harbingers of all things hopeful are hanging their optimism on the next digit in time.

For me a new year is only a moment not unlike any other moment wherein a person looks to the future and wonders at its potential … and then makes a liquid-y air-letting sound with their mouths and gives up hope.

What’s the point?

I rarely wait for the end of one year so that, in a wine-addled haze, I can resolve to be a better person in the beginning days of the next year.

But I’m not a cynic.

I try to change the error of my ways as it occurs to me, whenever it occurs to me, lest I forget. Not that it matters. I don't really change.

My diet doesn't get better, my clothes don't become stylish. I don't keep up with the laundry or count to 10 before I snap angrily at a child who annoys without intent. I speak my mind even when my mind is telling me to shut up.

I'm the same person I was yesterday, and the day before that and the year before that day. So forth or hence, whichever applies. Even in the New Year, despite the fact that I quit smoking 10 years ago, I know it will be the same me who tips back the glass and toasts tomorrow, a little older but none the wiser. I’m still going to see the glass as half empty.

I'm also one of those persons who THINKS I let things go when I merely tie my grievances to the longest leash I can find just in case I need to haul them back in when it's cold or raining or otherwise inclement.

I'm not particularly proud of this. I know I am a mule with the stubborn.

“Fester. Fester. Fester. Rot. Rot. Rot.”

Still … I hear the cheer. I am drawn to it the same way I am drawn to the fresh glut of media snippets instructing us how to actually stick to the resolutions we make. Just like they reported last year … only the talking head is someone we’ve never met before, and she’s wearing a blouse that implies she's in the know. I imagine she’s also got a matching handbag and she owns the secret of accessorizing. She’s a professional.

She gives me hope that maybe this year I can put the festering rot away.

Maybe this is the year I can give up my status as the sometimes spokesperson for PLUM -- The People for Less Unrest in Marriage – an imaginary think tank that hasn’t really risen to the status it deserves anyway. It’s merely acquiesced, which is not to say it has truly found agreement.

Acquiescing rarely means that no matter what the person with whom you’ve aligned your opinion thinks. It simply means you’ve given in; you’ve compromised but not in a healthy or constructive way. You’ve thrown up your hands and said: “Fine, whatever.”

As a parent, I find this a lot in my responses as well.

For instance, when Santa bought Ittybit an unfinished dollhouse for Christmas I knew that she'd want to decorate it. I could have guessed she'd want to color the roof and door knobs in marker or crayon, and furthermore, that she'd get tired midway through and start scribbling blindly.

Had it been my dollhouse, I would have left it alone. I would have wanted it to be clean and fresh and new -- the opposite of how I see my life and everything in it.

At that person, I couldn't help but to try and dissuade her from slapdash decoration. But she is not me. She has no qualms about her abilities. She sees opportunity and beauty where I see only the indecision and imperfection.

Soon I stopped lobbying for tasteful colors and decorator paint swatches, and instead tried accepting the true beauty in her patchwork of scribbles. Not to acquiesce.

After all, Santa didn't bring the dollhouse for me. He brought it for her.

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