“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” – Mark Twain
Oh, it’s that wonderful time of year once again!
No, I’m not talking about Consumer-Is-Mass, not Don’t-Krampus-My-Style; I’m talking about whipping out that notepad and pencil, laptop, desktop keyboard, and social-media-ize the hell out of your good intentions to change and be a better person through meme after meme, post after post of New Year’s Resolutions!
￼Tradition dictates they will last about a day or two, depending on how vain, superficial, idealistic, naive, or stubborn you tend to be. Carry on.
Who is it that said “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? I always get them confused, but whoever coined that phrase is a cynical, bonafide national treasure in my book.
Look, I’m all for change, growth, self-improvement, etc. Hell, this is what this project is all about! But if there is one thing I’ve learned from all of this in 2018, if there is a single lesson I have taken to heart and will death-grip with all of my Force abilities until the day I become a Force ghost, it is this:
Intent does not make a person; action does.
When I was young – back in the days of cocaine cowboys, kitschy glam rock, big hair, and genius John Hughes movies – I could care less about the troubles of the adult world. Bills, responsibilities, work, adulation, infamy, social drama, gossip, those were all grown-up problems. My biggest concern was making sure I got as much fun out of my toys and imagination before heading off to bed at 7pm EST. I had a strict sleep schedule, even back then, though that was more obligated than self-imposed.
(I would later discover that avoiding sleep deprivation and maintaining a well-regulated sleep regiment is a key component to treating mental illness; go figure.)
Life was all about the now, the current moment, what made me feel good and alive, and all of that was done naturally, unwillingly, without thought or hesitation.
And then I grew up.
We all grow up, become adults, and get bombarded with the idea that there is a finite timeline to how events in your life should unfold, that a perfect schedule of appropriateness and success has been formulated, prepared, and disseminated unto our society, and if you do not adhere to those sacred instructions, well, you are worth nothing.
That, of course, is utter bullshit.
Bipolar disorder tends to wreak havoc with its absolutist sense of morality; good is good, bad is bad, and whatever shakes that foundation, whatever makes us doubt is instantly discarded, like most hangover-laced resolutions being whispered when hardcore celebrations of another yearly survival ritual have ended.
At some point, you realize that life is not supposed to be about constant happiness, eternal bliss, a quirky sitcom with an UH-OH problem with resolution and happy endings in the span of thirty minutes.
Yes. I did. *cue laugh track*
Life is all about moments – strands full of colorful, bright, and dark yarns that weave through the infinite tapestry that is the Universe.
The human experience is not a fixed, resolute, finite, etched in a stone slab for all time; it is the constant ebb and flow, bob and weave, of our collective senses assimilating information, always giving way to new things, wonderful, painful, orgasmic, numbing, chaotic, CHANGING.
So with all of that being said, why do I feel as if New Year’s Resolutions are a bunch of Hallmark obsessed hogwash?
Because every day, every single moment, is a new resolution, a new opportunity to make change. You do not need a list, you do not need to validate your intentions with the parking attendants that are the people that surround you.
Once upon a time, I used to smoke like a chimney. I would smoke at least three packs of menthols; the stink of cigarette smoke and failed intentions permeated my clothes, my skin, and my soul. I had that hacking smoker’s cough, that alveolus burst of lung failure and despair that always reminded me that I was but a few drags away from calming my anxiety. It wreaked havoc on my health, on my hygiene, and most of all, on my significant other. The stench of constant disapproval and concern always lingered; as the days went by, and the foul stink grew ever more disgusting, I would promise myself and others that I would stop the habit, break free of it, always buttering up the bread with luscious, creamy, convincing lines of assurance and misled, false conviction.
And then, one magical day, this wise woman who saw through my bullshit said to me:
“Show me, don’t tell me.”
From that day forward, I stopped smoking. Cold turkey. Haven’t had a single cigarette since.
My world view changed once I heard, accepted, and internalized those words.
It is a truth the echoes in my mind every day; it is a spark that always lights the kindle for motivation, good will, and prosperity within me.
I no longer make promises, nor resolutions; I just do what I must, accept failure when it arrives, and celebrate victory when I triumph.
You know, live life and stuff.
When you feel tempted to announce how you’re going to “change”, “make things happen”, “insert-motivational-here”, keep in mind the irony that even if in the theater of the mind we have a never-ending adulating audience, the harsh truth is that nobody really cares, and those that do, don’t need to tell you.
They just show it.
It is up to you if you want to be the voice of change, or the agent who carries out its will. You don’t need a public service announcement, a carefully redacted list, or anyone’s approval to remind you that you, and only you, can make positive change happen.
PS. Write that down.
Van Wilder knew what was up. Genius. Ryan Reynolds IS a freakin’ national treasure.