It's a brand-new year, which, for some, means a brand-new set of rules and resolutions to try and live up to.
I guess the whole concept of a clean slate every January first is pretty darn irresistible to a lot of folks. I confess, though, that I don't often participate in the first-of-the-year race towards personal perfection, but I know that many do. Yes, all around us, people are determinedly dieting, carefully cleaning out dresser drawers and lovingly lacing up the new running shoes they got for Christmas. And that's a good thing, because every little bit helps, even if the selfsame folks find themselves back to eating Snickers for breakfast, vainly searching for socks, and driving two blocks to the post office by the Ides of March.
Oops. Did that sound cynical?
I guess so, but only to the extent that I think that if you truly feel you need to get skinny, organized or in shape, you should just quietly get down to it when the spirit moves you, instead of waiting to make a public pronouncement of your intentions as the ball drops in Times Square. But just in case you really are looking at January first as a starting point for something new and different, here are a few ideas I think we all might pay attention to this year and every year.
•Learn to play well with others
For some reason, we seem to have entered a period when simple civility is entirely passé. My personal theory is that the many remote styles of communications in use--like texting, email and social media sites--have fostered an artificially interactive culture where people seem to feel free to say things that they'd never dream of saying face to face. The many icky examples set on TV and in the political arena just enhance the mean-spirited trend. So, how about taking some advice from a leading American philosopher of the 1940s, Thumper, the Rabbit:
"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all"
•Bake more bread, make more soup.
Or, in other words, slow down and keep it simple. It's so easy to get caught up in our gadgets and overwhelmed by all the sensory input that surrounds us. So here's an idea: Unplug for a day. Go outside for awhile. Look at the sky. Count the stars. Read a book. Write a letter. Have some soup.
•Have a little faith.
Not to proselytize in the pages of your morning paper, but has it occurred to you that there might just really be a power greater than you out there? A power greater than your Ipod and your Blackberry, even? While it's possible to think that sunsets, snowflakes, babies, wildflowers, music and chocolate chip cookies all came about as a result of some evolutionary accident, it's even more fulfilling to believe that they're all a part of a heavenly master plan put into motion by someone who loves us.
Works for me.
Happy New Year.