Sunday, January 23, 2011


This post is slightly revised from a January 7 post.

Have you broken your New Year's resolution yet? What's taking you so long? You've had a whole week.

I don't do resolutions, myself.

A few years ago I was invited to join a web site called "Red Room," whose tag line is something like "Where the writers are." Flattery will get you everywhere, so I joined.

I almost never visit the site anymore, but I still get weekly emails from them, usually with a suggested "blog topic of the week."

I have much better ways of wasting time. But recently one of these emails caught my attention. The blog topic was New Year's Resolutions, and the email began:
The journalist and author Eric Zorn wrote, "Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility."
What a load of crap.

For most people, New Year's resolutions are an amusing diversion, and nothing more.

Imagine some guy at a crowded party on New Year's Eve. It's a few minutes before midnight. He goes into the bathroom and lights a cigarette. My last smoke, he resolves. He flips on the overhead fan, crumples his pack of Winstons, and lobs it deftly into a wastebasket.

A short time later he's back with the other revelers. The clock strikes midnight, and in Times Square, the big ball falls. The guy yells Happy New Year! along with everyone else. Then he grabs a woman he does not know and presses his smoky lips against hers.

Fifteen minutes later he's back in the bathroom sifting through that wastebasket, in the throes of his first nicotine fit. There mighta been one last smoke in there, he thinks. But when he finds the package and uncrumples it, it is empty.

So he bums a cigarette from that woman he just kissed. The party's host says If you must smoke, please step outside. They do. The woman has but one cigarette left, for she too had thought of quitting, but at 11:45 changed her mind. They share this cigarette. It is a Winston, his brand. As they pass it back and forth they fall in love.

Or something like that. I could add that a year later they get married. Again it is New Year's Eve. This time, it doesn't even occur to them to quit smoking. Afterward they fly off on their honeymoon – to Winston-Salem, or Marlboro Country, or some other ironic destination.

Or something like that. I could add that both are ticking time bombs, with monstrously carcinogenic tobacco sediments in their lungs already spawning cancer.

I could, but I won't, because this isn't an anti-smoking rant.

No behavior will change because of a new calendar. Behaviors change because an individual wants to change. You want to quit smoking; you want to get off the couch and start working out. It doesn't matter whether it's December 31 or August 9. If you want to change some behavior to the better, there's no time like the present – if you'll pardon the cliche.

That Red Room email about resolutions went on to say:
Breaking them is part of the cycle.

Here's wishing you a belated Happy New Year!

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