I have always been a fan of self-help books.
I am amused at my own attraction to this genre of writing. I’m old enough now to accept my own flaws and quirks as part of me. I’m not perfect; I have bad days; sometimes I do things that humiliate me after the fact. Sometimes I need others to point out my mistakes. Humiliation aside, I am generally grateful for the nudge toward better behavior. Most importantly, I try. Every day, I try to be a good person, to be kind and pleasant and friendly and supportive. I think the trying is crucial.
I no longer believe self-help books can inspire overnight changes. I see New Year’s resolutions in a similar light, but I kinda like making New Year’s resolutions. But this year I have no resolution in mind, so I am stumped.
In 2007, I resolved to find more joy in my life. At the time, I was going through a rough patch in my graduate work: nothing was working. Every single experiment I did failed for either technical or scientific reasons. Technical reason: the data computer crashed AGAIN. Scientific: my cloning strategy was poor. By resolving to find more joy, I found the strength to weather this disastrous period of my science life, and eventually things started working again. The computers stopped crashing. My advisor and I pieced together a successful cloning strategy. Spring arrived, and I was happy.
I kept that resolution for joy all year. I kept my chin up through life’s bumps and bruises. I began to embrace love as it arrived in my e-mail box day after day. I started writing Life, Love, and Food. I ran a half-marathon. I submitted three papers and a grant application with my advisor. 2007 was a good year for me.
But what shall I do for 2008?
I gave up watching television about two months ago. I don’t miss it at all. I can’t really take that resolution as my New Year’s resolution because it’s a done deal as far as I’m concerned.
I think for 2008, I will make a series of tiny resolutions. I can’t think of a big resolution that I am ready to tackle now, but I love the idea of a fresh start, the new year, and the gradual return of the sun. So for now:
* I’d like to eat more oranges.
* I want to give more money to street musicians.
* I would like to learn how to make two fabulous cakes, one vegan and one no-holds-barred.
* Finally, it would be lovely if my dear friend Shawn Marie and I could finally have our coffee-tasting at Casteel Coffee. We have been promising each other for months that we would do this, but alas, schedules have conflicted and we haven’t done it yet.
There, I think those four resolutions ought to do it for now. Last year I focused on joy; this year I am focusing on small pleasures. May you find both joy and pleasure in the new year.