Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Nothing changes on New Year's Day"

I have this friend who doesn't see the point of unachievable things. I mean, he doesn't really think that way [does anyone, really?], but he thinks he does and that makes talking to him occasionally irritating. He thinks that everyone is selfish [of course, they are] and therefore there is no point in selflessness. Or, that it's overrated. Because it's unachievable.

This makes me wonder about idealism. I never could quite puzzle through the "shoot for the moon, land in the stars" argument. Because at its most basic level, such a viewpoint is pragmatic. [Therein was the genius of my negative case that year. Horse beaten.] Why do we tease ourselves with things that aren't ours? Why do we dabble in ambition when it is at best only a cure for apathy? Why don't we keep our New Year's resolutions?

I don't know. The ideas connect in my head. Maybe not so much on paper.

I have a small bit of scorn for New Year's, because I think waiting for a certain lunar-dependent day to arbitrarily resolve to change one's habits for a lunar-dependent amount of time, it kind of seems, wimpy. Resolution ought to go hand in hand with revelation.


Revelation: I just lost my breath when I walked up those stairs, I'm out of shape!

Resolution: I am going to start doing cardio right now!

See, I think it makes it stick better. People make arbitrary and nebulous commitments at the start of each year, and most of us are embarrassingly short of our goals come twelve months later. I think it's because these resolutions are often devoid of revelation, a clear and hard understanding of one's own motivation and the necessity of change and action. Does that make sense? I'm not going to start flossing just because the numbers changed on my calendar. I'm going to start flossing because I just backed up all my speech files and was nearly crushed over the wave of hypocrisy when I glanced at "pers flossing.doc". And because oral hygiene is for winners!

I'm not really resolving to floss. I already do that. Sometimes. [See!]

I think perhaps people make resolutions because if their resolve fails, at least they tried. At the start of the year everyone fully expects to be all the better one year later, even though precedence reminds them that their resolutions are rarely fully kept. There's idealism for you. Or pragmatism. Depending on how you look at it.


Art said...

"Why do we tease ourselves with things that aren't ours?" Because one day they will be. :)

I like this thought: "Resolution ought to go hand in hand with revelation."

Caitriona aka Catherine said...

I came very close to not reading this post because the title made my mind go into the song by U2. Quickly, I was able to quiet my mind long enough to read this blog and it made me so hopeful.
You are looking at things realistically. I am thinking about goals and they have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that today is 1.1.11. My thoughts have been launched by a couple of things but mainly because my kids are no longer children.

Brandon said...

I feel the same way as your friend somethings. I'd like to work in the environmental field, but it's a lost cause in our culture, we're too materialistic down to the core. It's like swatting at flies while the corpse rots; it's going to happen. It's hard to see the point of fighting against the inevitable.

But I also really liked your revelation-resolution connect.

Hayley said...

@Brandon - I resonate with that dichotomy so much! No one wants to take up a lost cause, something that's doomed from the start because it is, realistically, impossible. And yet, taking on these hard [impossible] things often gets the ball rolling on real change.

It's a kind of paradox that irritates me for existing. :P