There’s no getting away from it. You have to make a resolution. The new year expects this of you; it is after all, the birthday of every one of us. We gift ourselves resolutions for two reasons: in the hope that we become better people, and for the sheer joy of breaking them so we reassure ourselves that we remain the same people.
When I was younger (and more foolish) I made anti-resolutions in protest against the standard practice. I listed out my anti-resolutions thus: 1. I shall smoke more. 2. I shall try to be rude to at least one person everyday. 3. I shall sleep till noon the whole year. 4. I shall borrow money I have no intention of returning. 5. Once a week I shall pretend not to recognise a friend at a party.
The weird thing is, I couldn’t keep my anti-resolutions either. So hear it from someone who has travelled both routes — whichever way you go, it will be impossible to get to the destination. I think non-adherence is built in to this whole new year resolution business. The fun is in the making, not in the keeping of them.
I am sure if we dig deeper we will discover that the word ‘resolution’ comes from the Latin ‘resolo’ which sounds like an Italian dish but actually means ‘don’t fool yourself into believing that this year you can – against the evidence of all previous years – stick to observing your resolutions.’ Yes, Latin makes a single half-word go a long way.
The anti-resolutions were in my youth; now I can do one of two things. Either reach back into my past and correct some of the resolutions to match what has happened since, or make impossible ones for the future, the theory being that since none of them will come to fruition anyway, let me at least have fun imagining they will.
In the first lot, there might be resolutions like (imagine I am, say 14 years old): 1. I shall aim to be a cricket writer 2. Within a few years, I should be writing a column for Friday magazine. And so on.
In the second lot would be resolutions like: 1. I shall visit Mars in the next ten years. 2. I shall impeach, on twitter, an American President.
Experience has taught us that new year resolutions, like a glass window in the path of a large stone, will be broken. So perhaps it is best to make anti-resolutions. If you resolve to smoke more and break that resolution, your lungs will thank you. If not, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you were able to keep at least one resolution.
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