Now That January Is Mostly Over...
This year I firmly resolve to eat more chocolate.
By mid-January, most New Year's resolutions resemble that evergreen Christmas wreath still hanging on your front door: tattered, a bit smelly and headed for the rubbish bin once you muster up enough energy to do the deed. After years of this, I've discovered a secret. The trick to keeping your resolutions is to pick them wisely: resolve to do something you're likely to actually do. Like eating chocolate. (Lately, though, scientists have been telling us that dark chocolate has more antioxidants than green tea and is good for us, which does take some of the fun out it.)
Meanwhile, from the Department of Really Obvious Science (motto: 'Spending Your Tax Dollars to Discover Things You Already Know') comes news of a recent study of rats and their dietary choices. The study concluded that lab rats will expend much more effort to get good-tasting but not very nutritious food than they'll expend for nutritious but bland-tasting stuff. Gee, ya think?! Anybody who has tried to convince themselves to eat the veggies in the fridge instead of going out for a burger and fries1 will understand the rats' behaviour. If nutritionists want us to eat our broccoli, they should make it taste like chocolate cake.
This year I firmly resolve to get a grip.
It's been a humbling experience.
Last September, a number of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina moved into the apartment complex where I live. Among this group were four generations of a single family who had lost everything when the hurricane and subsequent floods destroyed their New Orleans homes. So here they find themselves, living under the cold permacloud that is winter in the Midwest US, and if anybody has a right to feel hard done by it would be them. However, I often chat with the elder Mr Williams, the patriarch of the group, and he is one of the most cheerful men I've ever met. He's always smiling and always has a good word to say. I enjoy our talks, not only because they leave me smiling as well, but because I have an ulterior motive. I want to find out how he does it. I want to know how he manages to lose almost everything he has at the age of 74 and find himself uprooted and dropped down into unfamiliar territory, but still face each day with a genial equanimity. If he could bottle and sell whatever it is, he'd be a rich man. Come to think of it, he already is a rich man.
This year I firmly resolve to lighten up.
I thought I had managed to escape.
There seems to be a nomad's gene in the family DNA. Most of us don't have it, but the few who do are a restless lot. They tend to pack up and 'light out for the territory' whenever the spirit moves them, and the spirit has moved them to every continent on the planet except for Antarctica (and I figure it's just a matter of time with Antarctica). I expect one of us will end up on Mars one day. This group tends to remain single and childless, or else they shed spouse and sprouts when said spouse gets sick of all the gadding about.
As I said, I thought that I'd missed out on the family mania, having spent my feckless and unencumbered 20s more or less in one spot. However, now that I'm older, feckless and somewhat encumbered, my feet are itching to go. So far, I've limited myself to moving about the Midwest every year or two, but now I've got a hankering to see 'forn parts', as Granny Weatherwax2 would call 'em, and I figure it's just a matter of time.
The good thing about moving regularly is that you don't accumulate much stuff. Anybody who settles down and stays put for a while knows how quickly 'stuff' moves in with them. It's never a good idea to let inanimate objects get too comfortable and clingy. A yearly move also eliminates the need for spring cleaning, as your temporary digs don't have time to get very dirty and you'll be cleaning up whatever messes you've made in just a few months anyway.
It's tiring, though, although it helps me keep yet another New Year's resolution: get more exercise.
It's gonna be a long year...