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Resolution may lead to evolution

January 03, 2002

Resolution may lead to evolution



It's the time for resolutions. Last year I resolved not to make any resolutions. That's the only resolution I've ever kept for longer than one week. But tradition prevails. Like lemmings, we must run off the cliff of the future knowing there's nothing but air under our feet.

(Yes, I know, the National Public Radio science reporter said lemmings don't really follow their leader in a suicidal pack off the edges of cliffs. I don't believe him.)

We in Lifestyle have even gone so far as to ask young people to send us their resolutions for the next year. We thought we'd fill the page of Tuesday's NEXT section with the hopes and plans and determination of kids from 12 to 21. We got five.

Teenagers, I guess, are too busy living for today. A resolution, a promise about behavior that goes on for more than five days, is unthinkable. Literally.

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I understand that.

Long past my teen years, I have a great reluctance to make a promise beyond those I've already committed to in previous years. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know if I'll be able to stick to a new resolution. In fact, given my experience in making New Year's resolutions, I know I won't stick to a resolution.

I've made enough resolutions over the course of 56 years that the pipes of responsibility are clogged with the remnants of resolutions broken. At some point, life overflows.

Commitment, after all, is what a resolution is all about. When you resolve something, you agree to stick to it, no matter what. We make these commitments at the New Year because it's a time to start again, to rethink the way we're living and behaving and to make improvements.

But really, we could do this at any point in the year. In fact, I think people have secret resolutions, promises to themselves that they don't share with anyone - just in case they break them.

Once somebody knows you've made a resolution, they have a tendency to ask you about it, to nudge you if they see you slipping. Like, "Honey, are you really sure you want to eat that second piece of dark chocolate candy with the nougat center?"

Reminders like that can be very annoying.

Of course, if you keep your promises, your life changes.

I have secret resolutions. Of course, the minute I write them out, they won't be secret anymore and anyone can hold me to them - another reason people don't make public resolutions.

For instance, I have secretly resolved to make the Lifestyle section the best section of its type in three newspaper divisions. In three states. Whew. Now all my actions have to line up with my promise.

Instantly, I want to take it back, hedge my bets, make the bar a little lower. If this were a resolution to diet, you can bet I'd be backing it up by 25 pounds. I'll just lose 10 pounds this year, thank you very much.

Resolutions just make us downright uneasy.

But maybe that's the trick. Make yourself a little uncomfortable. Make grand resolutions. Then, when you fail, at least you've made some headway toward your goal. Maybe humanity evolves moment by moment as we strive toward our goals in spite of our failures, or maybe because of them.

Ginny Fite is Lifestyle editor at The Herald-Mail.

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