New Year’s Resolutions are painful lost causes whose place in history belong next to the dodo bird, Laser Discs, and Donald Trump. I hate resolutions with a passion and I will joyfully troll my friends who claim they want to try to turn their lives around on January first. We all know that most resolutions die painful, horrible deaths within weeks and that most people don’t last forty-eight hours before the first cracks in their resolve begin to show, and I am no different. In the past I’ve resolved to lose weight, to give myself more time for myself, to be a better human being, to stop smoking (I actually did that, but not as a result of a New Year’s resolution), to plan out my lessons more than a week ahead, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum. Resolutions have become such a joke that it’s now all the rage to state what terrible thing we’re not going to do so as to actually accomplish our resolution. “I’m not going to drink fruity beers.” or “I’m not going to cheat on my taxes.” or ” I’m going to make out with all of Fifth Harmony.” (That last one was from a student, whom I assured that his chances of that are actually pretty decent)
Yet, with terrible self loathing and utter disdain for myself, I’m making a change. I am making a reso…*hurk* I am making a resolut…*ack* Ahem, Iammakingaresolution… but goddamn it, I refused to start on New Year’s Day with the rest of the dregs who are regretting their New Year’s Eve revelry. So here I am, January second, and I’m starting a new page, turning over a new leaf, and beginning a new chapter. And no, it’s not to be terribly redundant; I’ve resolved to be better. Better at what? Well, everything I guess. At least everything that’s important to me. To be in better shape, to be a better writer, to be a better teacher, and to be a better father and husband. You know, the basics.
Actually, to be completely honest, I had already started a few months ago. I was given both the curse and blessing of free time. My school district started working only our regularly scheduled hours in response to yet another year in which our contracted step increases were not given, which meant that I wasn’t putting in 50-60 hours a week on school related labors. I instead had a few hours a day in which I had time to do other things, though for the first few weeks I spent that time fretting over what I was not getting done for my classes and stress eating my way into my fat pants. All right, my “fatter” pants. Anyway, after I got out of my own head, or pulled it from my considerably immense ass, I decided I’d spend part of that time exercising, mostly by walking the local pathways in our parks. One in particular is quite big and has an extensive trail that can be intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with it. It was this poor choice of venue that led me to push myself, test my endurance and resulted in a vision from my spirit animal, a fawn that told me I had to change my ways, to lose weight, and should seek a higher path.
Well, perhaps I’m romanticizing the story a bit. In a more honest telling, I went for a walk in the park and decided to take the outer trail, which was a bit longer than I had anticipated. By the time I had figured out that I had two miles left no matter which way I went I was tired, dehydrated, I forgot my water in my van, my phone was dying, and I was panicky. Just then, a few of my students on the cross country team passed by me, but when I tried to wave them down for help they just thought I was saying hi, so they waved back and loped away, their healthy vigor laughing gleefully at me as they passed. With the last few watts of energy I quickly phoned my wife to tell her I might not be home in time to pick up the kids, or ever, and explained my predicament. Her laughter as my phone died was both haunting and ego crushing. I picked up the pace, determined to get home before her when I noticed a fawn next to the path. It wasn’t quite a full grown deer, perhaps our equivalent of a teenager; it still had some spots, but the beginning of antlers showed. I noticed it, turned back to the trail and plodded on. A few minutes later I turned around and noticed it was following me. For some reason, this both pissed me off and scared me.
This sprat of a deer is following me, an apex predator, top of the food chain (in suburbia) and it’s trailing me like I’m not a threat at all. It should have run away the moment it saw me. After all, by this time I’ve worked up quite a lather and I should be pushing out all kinds of manly pheromones just primed for scaring the lower lifeforms away. But also, it could be a rabid deer, and it’s just waiting for me to stumble so it could attack and kill me. In my present state, it wouldn’t be long. So instead of waiting for the inevitable onslaught of hooves in my back, I stopped, turned toward the deer, puffed up my chest and yelled, “Go on! Shoo now!” The heavens trembled.
The deer looked at me for a moment, shook it’s head, walked around me, and then proceeded down the trail, like I was an old motorist driving in the left lane. I swear I heard it say, “Fatass” under it’s breath as it passed me. I trudged the rest of the way back to my van and drove home in shame, defeated by maybe eighty pounds of deer jerky. This left me so demoralized I think I stopped walking in the parks from that moment on. That, and it was supposed to be getting cold.
Now here I am, fifteen pounds heavier and still in my “fatter” pants, with cold weather actually on the way and I’m expecting to be able to turn this all around? Well, yes. Because it’s not about the New Year, it’s about what it means to me. A recent conversation with my brother-in-law, a successful artist currently residing in China, reminded me that one of the things I lack is discipline, at least when it comes to things like my writing and things I do for myself, but when it comes to what I do for my family and for my students, I excell. I guess when it comes down to it I try harder for them than for myself, I am disciplined enough for them, because I feel they deserve it, but I don’t see the value in myself, so I slack. It would make sense then that if I put some effort into myself, perhaps I’ll see some worth there too. Or some BS like that. Either way, the status quo isn’t working, I need to change.
So here is my plan: Day by day, I’ll improve myself. I will walk my 10,000 steps, I will stay within my calorie budget (mostly, let’s be honest), for now I will add at least one page of writing to my book a week, I’ll spend more time on my students and less on the plans, and I’ll spend more time doing things with my family. I will challenge myself to improve every month and be better. And I’ll document it all here, because, hell why not. And when I see that deer again this fall he better look out because… I’m not actually sure what I’ll do. Hunting in county parks is prohibited and I usually don’t carry a knife or gun with me, soooo I’ll toss him a saucy wave and power walk my way past him. Take that, bitch.