As I’ve discussed before in this space, I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. They are, like most last-minute life-changing decisions, made in haste and repented in leisure. They generally set their sights unrealistically high, which is an easy and delicious recipe for chicken-fried failure, or they’re so easily attainable as to not be worthwhile in the first place. Besides, there’s something about tying your acts of will to a turn of the calendar that makes it seem as though you’re helpless to get your shit together without the assistance of an entire centuries-old system of marking time. If you want to do something, just do it; you never hear anyone say “This is the year I’m finally going to do something about my house being on fire.”
This isn’t to say I never even attempt to flap my arms hard enough to direct my life’s tailspin towards a nice dramatic mountainside instead of an anonymous flat patch of earth. Like most people, I go through periods of wanting to eat better, dress better, make halfway-decent use of my health insurance, or finally comb the rust out of my beard. But I don’t really trust the efficacy of publicly announced resolutions, because who gives a shit if I live up to them or not? If there was a Supreme Soviet of Resolutions that would send me to a prison farm if I didn’t use my parks pass at least once a month, that would be one thing, but most of the things I care enough to make myself do, I, well, care enough to make myself do. All my writing-related resolutions are just forms of self-discipline, which one needn’t fancy up with holiday frills; they’re just things you’re going to do or you aren’t, and if you lack even that level of drive, then probably a creative life is not for you. (I had planned on writing a blog entry for every movie I saw this year, but, illustrating the level of intense devotion I bring to all my projects, it only lasted four days into 2014, at which point I got zooted and watched Good Burger. No one needs to read a thousand words about that.)
Worse than that, though, is the fact that most New Year’s resolutions are just so…trite. The United States government, which apparently has taken care of that pesky unemployment problem we were having a while back, collected the most popular resolutions for 2013, and a more dreary lot of vows I have not heard since I narrowly escaped joining the holy orders as a member of the Flabby Brothers of the Impertinent Scowl. I know many of you have taken these very vows, and bless you for it; I don’t even know who you are reading this, but I am sure that you are a better person than I am, and I am equally sure that 2015 will find you having lived up to these impossibly tedious resolutions. I won’t be joining you, however, and here, aside from the fact that they are depressingly dull, is why.
DRINK LESS. Nope. I won’t be doing this. I’m getting up in years, and a lot of my friends who were once head-in-the-toilet drunks are taking the primrose path of sobriety. I am happy for that if it lets them live longer, and I’m sure their clean-and-sober stories will be much more interesting than the thousand other ones I have heard over the years, but I will not be joining them on that path. Here’s why: I enjoy drinking. I enjoy being drunk. For reasons too terrifying to contemplate, I no longer get hangovers. And best of all, I’m good at drinking. I’m better now than I ever was. I can glug down gin like iced tea and wake up the next morning ready to watch other people run a marathon. It’s safe to say that I am not good at nearly enough things that I can afford to give one of them up so easily. “But Leonard,” I hear some of you nosey Parkers saying, “Your father was an alcoholic.” Exactly! Which is why it’s such a miracle that I’m not, and why it’s vital that I continue the mission of drinking myself stupid for as long as I possibly can.
FURTHER MY EDUCATION. I could do this, or I could take all the money I get paid from my job and set it on fire. It might be tempting if I had something to further, but I never even graduated from high school; even if there was some payoff for me going back to school, I wouldn’t get a degree worth wiping up ketchup stains with until I was in my mid-50s, and I’m pretty sure by that time the highest-paying career for proletarian scum like myself will be selling limbs for food. Besides, if I had the knack for education, I wouldn’t have hit the rocks when I was fifteen.
GET A BETTER JOB. I like my job, but even if I had designs in that direction, this is on the level of “win the lottery” as something you can attain through sheer personal determination. I can barely compete with 20-year-olds for parking spaces.
GET FIT. Uggggh. So dreary. Look, I have nothing against getting fit. My body appears to have a constitutional disinclination for it, but I will admit to missing the days when I weighed in at a lean 235 instead of being a beer gut surrounded by a human donut hole. But there is nothing remotely interesting about working out, losing weight, getting fit, fat-shaming, paying thousands of dollars to the weight loss industry, or doing any of the things you have to do to live three years longer than I will. I always want to eat better, but hearing people talk about their dietary habits is exactly as depressing and futile as hearing retirees discuss their own failing health, which is exactly what today’s fitness enthusiasts will be doing when they’re that age. Luckily, their obsession with the contours of their own mortality will leave them ill-equipped for any painful speculation about why they didn’t focus on getting their minds in better shape, or being better people instead of thinner people. (Side note to vegetarians: on most of the key elements of your argument, you are 100% right — probably even righter than you’d be comfortable with. It’s just that I don’t care.)
ANYTHING INVOLVING MY FINANCIAL SITUATION. I’ve discussed at length my deep distrust of any gesture towards ‘maturity’ or ‘being an adult’ that involves a massive transfer of my already meager income into the coffers of multi-billion-dollar financial institutions, so there’s no need to belabor that point. Twice before I’ve made resolutions to save money towards my retirement, but the stock market did not make a matching resolution to not collapse due the the machinations of greedy scumbags, so it was a wasted effort both times. Indeed, most of my financial problems come down to being under the thumb of the Man, so it seems like he’s the one who should be changing his behavior, not me. I am working on my debt situation through the tried-and-true measure of ceaselessly avoiding my creditors, and if you check back with me in about six or seven years, I reckon it will have worked out quite nicely; and I’m well on my way towards saving a lot more money this year than I usually do, but that’s just so I can spend it later on things I like. Unforgivably juvenile, I know.
TAKE LESS DRUGS. Look, I’ve spend literally my entire adult life wishing I could live somewhere with a sane drug policy. Now that I finally do, it would be terribly hypocritical to cut back on my THC intake.
TAKE FEWER DRUGS. I won’t be doing that either, but I do have some suggestions for a few of you anent being an insufferable grammar pedant.
Basically, I plan to spend as much of 2014 as possible relaxing, reading, watching movies, listening to music, hanging out with my friends, spending time with the people I love, traveling aimlessly, maximizing my enjoyment of life, and making sport of mankind’s hilarious delusions that it will last forever and that it controls its own destiny. But I do look forward to your end-of-year equivocations, so please do cc: me on those. Happy new calendar, everybody!