Two years ago, on New Year’s Day 2012, I wrote this post. The photo on the post was of a woman’s hand holding a champagne glass. It wasn’t my hand, just some random picture I had found on the internet. The woman’s hands were lovely, as hand models’ hands are, and her long nails were painted dark red. At the time, my nails were short and unpainted. Now, after more than a decade of being too serious and practical for such things, I’m back to the long painted nails of my youth, today even adorned with flowers.
In the two years since writing that post, I’ve learned a few lessons, among them that we need to enjoy life more. We need to have fun with our kids. We need to spend time with our friends. We need to watch movies that make us laugh. We need to get hot pink manicures. We need to drink the champagne.
The champagne to which I refer is a bottle of Dom Perignon that a friend of mine has kept in the refrigerator for something like 15 years, waiting for the right occasion to drink it. The champagne glass in the picture reminded me of it, and it struck me as a fitting metaphor for the way we so often live our lives. We don’t drink that champagne or use that gift certificate or wear that dress because we’re saving it for a special occasion…until the champagne goes bad, the gift certificate expires, and the dress doesn’t fit or goes out of style.
On New Year’s we make resolutions, mainly of the variety that require a great deal of self-discipline and bring us little enjoyment. I used to make them, too, but not anymore. Not this year, not last year. The year before, I made two, about which I wrote on this blog:
For 2012, I have only two resolutions. The first is to try to respond to the failings of others – my children, family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and strangers – with empathy rather than anger…. My second resolution is to respond to my own failings in the same way. This one will be harder to keep, because I have always been a perfectionist, demanding of myself standards that no one could meet, and which I would never dream of demanding of others.
I was right; the second one was harder. I have made progress on both of these, and continue to work on them. They were, upon reflection, the best resolutions I ever made, and the only ones that ever made a real difference in my life.
So I offer a toast to freedom from gratuitous, oppressive New Year’s resolutions. The dawn of a new year is a time to celebrate what we have achieved (including the lessons learned from what we have failed to achieve) and look forward to that which we hope to achieve.