I’ve had an Eureka moment.
Like Ebenezer Scrooge when he first encountered Jacob Marley’s ghost, I initially assumed it was a bit of indigestion. That wouldn’t have been totally impossible, considering the amount of alcohol and sugar that has been rampaging through my system in recent days. But, upon closer inspection, I realised it for what it was – total insight.
The Road to Eureka began a few weeks ago when I found an old envelope stuck in the back of the closet where we keep the auxiliary Christmas decorations. Upon opening it, I discovered a list, entitled ‘New Year’s Resolutions 1989’. It wasn’t signed, but I knew for a fact that it was mine. Not only did I recognise the writing, but I also recognised the list. I should do, I’ve been making the same one, practically verbatim, every year since.
So, in 1989, I was going to:
1. Lose weight
2. Get fit
3. Eat better
4. Get more organised
Now, I have to admit to feeling a bit despondent as I looked at this. In all the years, no decades, since I wrote that, I had been unable to cross off a single item on it. Not a single one. And yet, I knew that I hadn’t been sitting on the sofa eating chocolate bon bons all that time. No, I had actually been out there accomplishing a few things. And so, being the kind of person who likes lists, I sat down and made a note of some of them:
1. Raising to what is beginning to look suspiciously like adulthood, two rather lovely children, and equipping them each with a good education and a happy childhood
2. Publishing a book that people I didn’t know actually bought
3. Getting a black belt in karate, and cycling from London to Paris
4. Learning how to play the flute, and bridge
5. Managing to help keep the business afloat, through countless recessions
6. Staying married to the children’s father, despite his rapidly growing number of highly irritating quirks
I put the two lists side-by-side and that’s when it happened. Eureka! The problem with my list of resolutions wasn’t me, it was the list.
I never kept to any of my resolutions because they didn’t mean anything. They were totally generic. Practically everyone on the block is waking up this morning to the exact same list. But, the things that got done, had actually mattered to me. I valued them. The children’s health and happiness and education mattered. I cycled to Paris for a charity that I cared about, training for months and eating like an athlete not so I could cross ‘get fit’ and ‘eat better’ off a list, but so that I could get to Paris. I learned the flute so I could play duets with my daughter, I started karate so I could go to karate summer camps with my son. I took minutes at board meetings so that everyone knew what the goal was and what each of us was doing to help reach it, not so I could be better organised. And I stayed married to the same man because…well, that’s a hard one. I’ll have to get back to you on that.
And so, I have concluded that if you have to make a resolution to do something, it probably doesn’t matter enough to you to actually do it. That’s why most of them get broken by the end of the first week in January. Whereas, if something is really important to you, you don’t need to make a resolution about it. You will just do it, or metaphorically die in the attempt, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes…but for only as long as it is important. After all, times and priorities do change.
Therefore, for 2012, I resolve to:
1. Not make any resolutions
But, by this time next year, I suspect I will have:
1. Finished the book, so I can stop thinking about it, talking about it, worrying about it. Thereby, freeing up some time to clean the house up a bit, or maybe not.
2. Churned out another 31 posts on this blog, thus completing my year of blogging. Whether anyone is still reading it is another matter entirely.
3. Been the best ‘Team Protocol Leader’ at the 2012 London Olympics that I can possibly be, whatever a team protocol leader is, and despite the purple and red uniform.
4. Helped Kimberly pack up her bedroom and move into her new flat, and told Christopher that a year in Barcelona would be a brilliant idea, without at any point, grabbing either of them by the ankles and begging them not to leave.
5. Stayed married to the same man.
That’s what I think anyway. I did, after all, say it was an Eureka moment. I didn’t say it was a universal truth. That’s something for next week. In the meantime, Happy New Year everyone. I hope that 2012 brings you much health, happiness, joy …. and pizza.
Not Leo Tolstoy (aka Eileen Riley)