There is no “s” on the above title because this is no end-of-year call to action nor a reminder to set to paper a list of goals. Truth be told, this motivational list-making is no longer fun or, more to the point, I would rather drag a dried up, pointyneedled Christmas tree through my house and wrestle it out the front door by myself, rather than write one more useless, unheeded intention, which is part of a bigger list that will resurface months later only to flagrantly mock me in its rose-colored ambition. Did I really write down I would exercise every single day this year? And stop putting a half a cup of half and half in my daily coffee? No wonder I drink champagne on New Year’s Eve, how else would I write such tropes of unbridled fancy? Besides − finding the neglected list in May, do not ask me how it got under the couch − only cements its worthlessness. By then it is the fifth month of 12, so I’ve already failed. Might as well wait until next New Year’s Eve to write the same goal and give it another faux-go.

When the same resolutions appear year after year, I propose it is time to either jump ship or continue to make the list solely for comedic purposes. For instance, writing the seemingly direct, but deceptively dangerous, goal, “Lose weight,” after eating a gingerman and a board foot of yule log, followed by a chaser of eggnog, is nothing but hilarious. You know, funny in that dark comedy kind of way, when you can’t distinguish if your tears are from laughing or crying. Sometimes, I’d listen to some newage advice and trade that losing weight objective for something more positive, like, “Eat healthy.” But that was only followed by months of rationalization. I mean, aren’t garlic mashed potatoes a vegetable?

I find resolutions to be dour little things that, although well intentioned, turn out to be ways we use our yearning, creative minds against the idea of our better selves. I might as well write down the truth, “I probably won’t exercise as much as I hope. After all, I’ve never met an ab exercise I like and, let’s face it, weights are heavy.”

Don’t get me wrong, writing resolutions is a noble endeavor, and if it worked, I’d be all for it. But, what if, rather than making resolutions, the concept of resolution itself was something that ennobled us and lit our path forward? For that to happen, we must go back to the late 14th century where the word resolution came from the Latin resolutionem and means “the process of reducing things into simpler forms” and, stems from resolvere, “to loosen.”

In our complex world of non-stop communication via these miraculous phones we carry around like totems to the gods of convenience and accessibility, “simple” has become a thought misused. Like, it is “simple” to click on a mouse to connect to a link that brings me to a site where there is every movie I didn’t know I wanted to see, along with reviews, related news, free trials, more links, and, oh yeah, a coupon for ten percent off printer ink. It is far from simple and often overwhelming.

Or “simple” being a bit we wear on our wrist that tracks our activities, logs each morsel of food, and reminds us to move. Reminds us to move? That takes simplicity out of the equation all together. Previously, I just moved, now it’s something to do.

But if we truly reduce things to simpler forms, might the old resolutions of achievement, from trying to break bad habits to artificially starting new ones, instead become less complex possibilities of ease. It could be the simplicity of taking a deep breath or a walk, the directness and connection of a smile, the deep hearted appreciation of all we already have. Could we “loosen” the grip of time being something we need to manage and untether ourselves from the obligation to be all things to all people. Simple might mean we see the bigger picture and know the game isn’t ever to get it all done, because there’s always more.

I, for one, am comforted by the concept of resolve; an earnest determination to reduce to simpler forms. To transform this end-of-year process and resolve the haggard New Year’s resolution into a heralding of simplicity, of ease. A heralding of peace.


In MusingCarole Vasta Folley