Starting small when looking ahead
What to resolve for 2022 when you have given up so much
JOHN DEMONT email@example.com @CH_coalblackhrt
Years of resounding failure have taught me the folly of New Year’s resolutions. Some, to eat and drink differently, or at least with restraint, to brush my hair every morning, never make it through the day. Others — to downward dog, and practise the saxophone daily, to read only things that expand my shrinking brain, to just say nothing if nothing nice can be said — managed, from time to time, to linger for a few weeks, before I backslid into my woeful, old ways. This year, I find it hard to summon the resolve to even try. Make no mistake: I believe as much in the value of self-improvement as Jay Gatsby ever did. Our collective quandary is this: What do you vow to give up when, with the pandemic still raging, you have already given up just about everything? No reason to make the yearly promise to swell the retirement fund by spending less on take-out food and restaurant eating, on concerts, movies and plays. The plague has made that a given. As for feeling virtuous over blowing less time on vinegary conversation at the café, on the elevator or the street, that is also meaningless when the most we can muster is a few muffled words with another human being half-a-block away. Similarly, since there is little opportunity for real travel what is the point in chest thumping about your intention to reduce the carbon footprint by using the car less and the bicycle more. Being kinder to our fellow humans is also a laudable goal, but not a realizable one when you are so cooped up, and your anger towards those whose biases do not coincide with your own, continues to bubble. Other resolutions seem equally beyond my reach: juiceless January without a doubt has its merits but it would take a stronger person than I to sit sipping a steaming cup of Red Zinger after having glimpsed the daily COVID count. As already noted, I have never been one for the annual scaling back of calories that begins this time of year. In 2022, with the traditional over-grazing underway that begins whenever DeMonts fear the food supply is in jeopardy, that reluctance is stronger than ever. On the other hand, maybe this is actually the year to vow to linger less sipping absinthe in your beloved groggery since saloons are now mostly closed making it impossible, for the moment, to fail at that undertaking. Because gyms are by-andlarge shuttered, and few people see you other than from the neck up on a Zoom call, there is no way for others to know whether you are living up to your boast to get the 30 minutes of daily exercise that the fitness pros suggest. It is, therefore, a test of character whether you lie outright, or instead babble about high intensity interval training, muscle confusion and other exercise buzzwords, implying that you are doing stability ball crunches when you are actually prone on the sofa, chest dusted with Cheezie crumbs, binging on Cobra Kai. Since there is little else to do in the first days of 2022, I have given this matter some thought, and concluded that the proper thing to do at the start of another shut-down, fearful year is to resolve to do a few, small, achievable things. I would urge you to do the same. I, for example, have vowed aloud so that my spouse can hear, to no longer walk the dog in sweatpants for the simple reason that, if they were slept in the night before, they are technically pajamas. I promise on the graves of my parents that, when left alone to my own devices, I will forgo what I have come to think of as the “full peanut butter:” on toast for breakfast, on white bread and fashioned into rollups for lunch, liberally slathered on crackers if a late afternoon pick-me-up is necessary, off a knife right out of the jar if the news seems particularly dire. I will, as well, reduce my nerve-jangling level of coffee intake, instead drinking more water because it is said to do wonders for a person’s complexion, and in times like this every little bit helps. So, it is my intention from here on in to rise every morning to the sounds of O-o-h Child, the original version by the Five Stairsteps, which is just the tune, in message and delivery, to put a person in the right frame of mind. It is only a small thing, I know that, but experience has taught me that it is best for me to start there, and then see where it takes me. John DeMont is a columnist with SaltWire Network based in Halifax.