Reverse psychology

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, December 29, 2013

You. Yes, you.

You are no longer allowed to have New Year’s resolutions, by decree of the highest court in the land, signed and dated this 29th day of December, 2013. It is expressly forbidden and punishable by law. So don’t even try.

When the ball drops and we’ve turned the page on 2014, all pending resolutions must be quashed. You must be standing there without resolve, fresh, clean and stress-free, mainly because the highest court in the land wants you to be happy. At least for a little while.

So …

No standing there in the middle of main street on Jan. 1 all cold and tired from a big night, gripping a cup of strong black coffee and pretending to window shop, pretending to stare at that watch you really like and would like on your wrist as you actually think about making better use of your time and how that resolution might go — something like, “Those lazy 10 minutes in bed before getting up are now the property of your new self. And your efficient new self knows what you can do in that amount of time with a good list to tick at. Put in a load of whites. Sort the unpaid bills. Fill the birdhouses. Meld the honeys. Iron the 14 shirts you haven’t worn in months.” And so on.

You’re going to stop all that, which, by decree, is no longer allowed. The birds will survive without unlimited seeds and nuts, just like they have for millennia. If you don’t iron, you won’t burn yourself on the iron or struggle with the cord or knock it over. You’ll wear sweaters. Every day. Or cotton jersey, right out of the dryer. You’ll be liberated, un-starched and happier. Maybe one day, you’ll actually want to iron again and maybe then you’ll be allowed to. But not now.

On the first of the new year, you will not be standing at the counter having that piece of spelt toast thinking now is the time to 1) not stand while eating anymore, and 2) not eat so much butter. You sit down all day some days, remember? And your brain needs fat. By nothing less than a writ, you are encouraged to rebel and do just the opposite. Gain a new perspective by enjoying standing, doubling the butter and even doing it over the sink. Hunched and in a hurry. And if someone else is doing it in your life and it bugs you, you will not in any way enable them to think they need to change, to resolve to change.

Because at the present time, the authorities do not want even an inkling of whatever general malaise you feel because you think you should weigh less, or work more, or read more books, whether they’re about geology, or Greek gods, or carbohydrates, or carbon footprints, or codependency or having less anger in your day. The projects you’ve never completed shall continue to pile up in 2014 because it is not only unadvised but against the law to complete them. Set it all aside, in a pile! Enjoy the pile in your mind. Enjoy the heaviness and the having-ness of the pile, the fact that you have things to do and work on in this life. Just not in 2014. There will be other years for all that.

And, whatever else is going on, there is not to be any trimming the tree of your character. Leave that tree alone. You came with a certain number of ornaments and lights and garlands and your job is not to scrutinize and refashion or amend in 2014. Make zero promises about changing. Fervently, try not to improve yourself. Don’t think of other resolutions you’ve made in the past years and edited, and do not think to yourself “Wow I haven’t made good on these resolutions in six years.” That alone is reason enough to stand there, mute, staring in the mirror without judgment.

Hey, dog walker: Stop resolving to do something else with your life. Hey, accountant: Stop making bucket lists. Hey, jitterbug: Stop endlessly saying this’ll be the year you drink less joe. Hey, pretty much everyone: Stop saying you’re going to stretch more in 2014, that a stretching routine is in your cards. Because it’s not. All of you resolvers, addicted to resolving and feeling the tug of it as we approach dropping-ball day — just stand there. Resolve nothing about nothing.

Because by decree and for the good of all, in 2014, we are taking a break. Permission granted to all to breathe a sigh of relief.

One Reply to “Reverse psychology”

  1. Hurray for you! Three years ago I did make a resolution that I have kept since – get a massage once a month. Maybe you can do that next year.

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