No resolutions. Probably.

Posted: 30 December 2008 in observations, therapy, you've got to be kidding

Me: I thought 2009 was a leap year.
Shirl: It isn’t.  See?  (Points to calendar)
Me: Yeah I see, but I really thought it was.  Was 2008 a leap year?  Do you know?  Can you look?
Shirl: (Looking, impatiently) You see?  This is why you have headaches.  All you need to know is that next month doesn’t have 29 days.  But you have to take it one step further, worrying about things that don’t matter.
Me:  Right…but was it?  2008?

This is why I haven’t made any resolutions.

I can’t not keep track of every last thing.  Did you put the keys back on the hook?  No?  That’s okay, but I need to know where the keys are.  Did the garbage man plan to come today?  I’m indifferent as to whether it’s today, tomorrow or next week, I just need to know whether or not it’s today and when it will be.  Is there an extra day next month or not?  Is there a rule here about this?  What exactly is the rule?

It isn’t that I need to follow all the rules.  After all, I don’t put my own keys back half the time and I don’t mind missing the garbage run as long as I’m choosing not to put out trash.  It’s the same reason why I’d be a model prisoner.  Or just look like one.  I don’t have to do everything by the books, I just have to do everything right or know how to perfectly skirt around it so that I can minimize the effort, time it takes and the consequences.  My sort of perfection.  And I have high standards.  Sigh.

For example: I’m making a calendar for February.  It will kill me if I have to do it twice.  It will torture me if I have to wait for the answer about the extra day.  It’s bad enough that I haven’t already memorized which years are the leap years for the rest of my life.  Furthermore, it’s a terrific oversight that I don’t know exactly how long I’ll live so that I can figure out all of the leap years from now til then and never need to worry about it.  Looking it up more than once is a waste of valuable minutes that I could be using to find. out. more. information.

Now you think I’m crazy.  I think you might be right.  But this brings us to resolutions.  If I were to make a rule for myself, for example, bring my wife her slippers every night, I would never ever make a mistake.  I would rather suffer miserably than make a mistake after I’d said I would do something.  It’s a relatively inconsequential thing, slippers, but I’d work out how exactly to make sure it gets done every night with maximum efficiency and then I’d never ever neglect to do it.  If it couldn’t be done efficiently, the resolution would have to go.

Change isn’t the problem here, I’m all for it.  But change involves a time commitment.  If I bring her the slippers at a different time each night, that’s fine.  As long as it fits in the clockwork of the night.  If she wants them at 6pm each night but nothing else happens at the same time everyday, I’ll agonize over how to make it efficient and then never deviate.  She would never have to scold over late slippers, there would never be a chance.  If inconsistency is the rule, I can follow it to a tee (as long as I’ve considered all the consequences, read the fine print, considered the better alternatives and determined whether or not the stated intention is the actual intention.  Fortunately, I’m a fast thinker.)

Slippers aside (and thank goodness she doesn’t have any), you can see how this is a problems with resolutions.  Just today I thought, maybe I’ll resolve to walk up all stairs instead of ever taking an elevator.  And then I spent the next hour thinking of all the instances when that might not be possible (What if we visited the Empire States Building?  What if we had luggage at the airport?  What if I broke a leg?)  Since I couldn’t effectively resolve all the what ifs, I decided it wouldn’t be a good resolution after all.  I’m still mulling over walking up one set of stairs a day, but that has equal hurdles (How long would a “flight” be?, etc.)

As a result, I try to live well instead of making resolutions.  I probably shouldn’t eat Twinkies and I probably should bring my wife slippers (or the equivalent)  but if I do (or don’t) no one is counting and that way no one (me) has to spend time worrying about whether 2009 is a leap year.  You see?

  1. meloukhia says:

    As I am sure you have already determined, 2008 was the leap year. I used to forget leap years too, until I realized that they always fall on the same year as a Summer Olympics.

    Myself, I’m not a fan of resolutions. I have about as much resolve and self control as a cat next to a bowl full of tuna salad.

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