some notes on keeping promises

by s.

As an relatively content adult human possessing a healthy level of cynicism, I recognize that most people of my kind tend to look down upon the New Year’s Resolutions. For starters, resolutions imply that something is wrong, and of course, we are all beautiful unique snowflakes who should never change – except for those of us who simply won’t ever change, and in both cases, why bother?

Obviously the real answer is that we should change. We will do so whether we like it or not, and if we put a bit of conscious effort into it, the odds of us changing for the better increase just enough to make a real difference. If we have goals that can help us work towards our dreams, then that means that we still have dreams. That seems rather important to me.

At the same time, perhaps I am merely overly optimistic about resolutions because I am actually rather decent at achieving them. I kept them simple for 2011: I wanted to make new things, and I wanted to make new friends. At the time I made them, they seemed impossibly hard. Now, I have at least three or four finished stories, a nonfiction essay, a bunch of half-finished pieces, and three chapters of the first draft of a book under my belt. I also have the kind of support system that I imagine one needs to have gotten any of that done.

I had a bunch of secret goals, too: we all do. Those are the goals you feel weirdly embarrassed about mentioning, even when they’re about simple things like health or love and they look like other people’s totally normal resolutions. (Maybe they seem embarrassing because they look like other people’s totally normal resolutions.) Looking back at those, only one didn’t get the effort it deserved, but I put more of myself into the rest of them than I even knew there was of me to give. That seems meaningful. That seems, if I’m being really honest, like I should have been presented with a puppy and a cake at the stroke of midnight to celebrate all of my accomplishments.

Here is what I got instead. On the very worst night of my year, I walked across the Manhattan Bridge and into the welcoming arms of two of my favorite people. They liquored me up, talked me down, and force-fed me one of the best grilled cheeses I ate last year. I walked home half-drunk and hopeful, suddenly feeling like big things were about to happen. That feeling, those friends, and that grilled cheese are as close to a puppy at the stroke of midnight as you can get, and that is what I’ll remember most about 2011.

(Also, the fact that it didn’t kill me.)