Next Year I’ll Stop Making New Year’s Resolutions

As a reformed procrastinator, I’m opposed to most forms of delayed action. Why if on December 1st you feel like you eat too many Pringles each day, you decide to wait until January 1st to begin your pringley abstinence? It’s an insidious habit.

It’s not the self-improvement with which I have a problem—quite the contrary—it’s the letting ourselves off the hook. We gift ourselves a month (sometimes more) of continued naughtiness, which just makes improvement more difficult come the new year. Here’s a general rule I try to follow every day: If it’s important enough to warrant improvement, it’s worth starting the improvement today. 

Making promises to yourself to improve is a glorious habit, but putting improvement off and not following through are bad habits. I also subscribe to the belief that big blanket promises are much harder to keep than small ones. Recovering alcoholics don’t say, “I’m never drinking again” and live happily ever after. They struggle. They take life a day at a time. That’s the best way to improve your life in my opinion.

We should all be like recovering alcoholics (starting January 1st of course).

Free to Choose and Free to Lose

In a few weeks, I’ll move away from my hometown. I know not what company I’ll work for, what my job title will be, or where I’ll be living. I’m frightened and invigorated by the prospect of change—of growth.

Life is an amalgamation of choices. Success is one of those funny words whose definition varies between people. To me, it means living the life I want to live.

Necessarily built into a free society is the freedom to stumble. I can move to this new city, get fired from this new job, thus losing my ability to pay rent. I mean not to let this happen.

I used to think the process of “growing up” was like treading water until death, but I’ve changed my mind. Treading water is what I did after graduation: keeping the same part-time job I’d had for years, being content to move back home, hoping life would drop an awesome opportunity right in front of me.

Growing up means realizing that you’ve been treading water and beginning the swim toward shore.

Some people let the looming Unknown stop them from ever growing up. There’s still a part of me that empathizes with these people. That was me for a long time. But I’m not treading water anymore. I’ve begun my swim.

My only hope is that I swim hard enough and fast enough and me enough so that when I look back just before I reach the shore, I think, “That was a damn good swim.”

Meat Tastes Good

Who among us hasn’t considered what it would be like to be a vegetarian? Our answers might range from that’s definitely not my bag, man; I love meat, and meat loves me to veggies are rad; maybe I could get used to it over time. 

Seeing animals in pain makes me feel sad, bad, and a tad mad. Especially when I see folks hunt for fun. Why is it that if a seven-year-old strangles a bunny, we assume he’s a psycho, but when a grown man does a buck with a rifle, he’s a man’s man? Fuck people who hunt for fun—useless sacks of shit. One is tempted to include how it’s usually religious people who like killing animals for sport, but that’s a non-sequitur, and one must always be logical, mustn’t one?

There are so many questions that go along with this one: What would it do to the world if we all stopped eating meat tomorrow? What would happen to the animals? The economy? Humanity?

A hypocrite is one of the worst things to be. Can I think people who hunt for fun are scum and still eat meat without being a hypocrite? This thought worries me often. Squaring with your own morality is difficult.

I’ve heard people say that they have no moral qualms about the mass production and demise of animals for fodder because “those animals are born to die.” They say this as if it constitutes an argument. Would they feel any worse about it if humans were the ones being raised specifically to die? They would. “Humans aren’t animals” (straw man). That’s not strictly speaking true. We are one among millions of species of animals. And some of us are fine with any “lesser” lifeform being constricted, tormented, and tortured so that we might have a nice slab of meat on our plates.

This is clearly an emotional issue for people. That’s why I used the strong profane language above. While I do eat meat unapologetically, I often question whether that decision fits in with my moral view of the world. There are other ways to get the nutrients we get from eating meat. So why do I feel the need to keep on eating meat? Because it’s tasty.

It’s hard to be logical on this question simply because of the far-reaching consequences of its answers. The economist in me says, “Let them eat meat.” The part of me that cries during movies says, “Baby pigs are cute. We shouldn’t eat pigs.” Hell, life can be described as being a ceaseless power struggle between these two competing parts of ourselves—the Rational and the Emotional. It’s hard sometimes to know which is which, and harder still to know which one to obey.

Christmas Traditions

Something about Christmas makes me feel icky. Or is it something in me that makes me feel icky about Christmas?

Mixed feelings make their way through my psyche in the days leading up to the holiday. I haven’t bought my loved ones enough gifts. What gifts could I give them to show how much I care? Am I a jerk for accepting their gift in the first place, when I know they could spend this money better elsewhere? Does that make me ungrateful? There’s a part also that sees the Black Friday crazies who shove and claw at each other to get the best deals and cringes. The whole thing just doesn’t sit well.

I’m wondering whether I’ll do Christmas when I’m older. My answer is currently yes. But I might put a cool spin on it. If I have children, maybe I’ll let them open a gift each day of December or something. I’ll be creative. Why not?

You may think I’m missing the “true meaning” of Christmas, which is, in your mind, spending time with loved ones. I don’t need a holiday to remind me to do that. It seems stupid that anyone should need a holiday to remind them to do that. And is one day a year really enough?

Maybe you think the “true meaning” of Christmas has something to do with Jesus Christ. I will not waste time commenting on that.

The sentiments underlying the holiday seem genuine and pure and good enough, but the way they’re packaged is what bothers me. Love and giving and togetherness—those are three really cool things, whether you do them at the end of the year or at any other time.

It would hurt me financially to move Christmas to July, but it seems like it would be a lot of fun. No one would be expecting a present from me and then boom! a package shows up at their house in the middle of summer.

I know of a few examples in popular culture where characters meddle with the traditions of the holiday season. They are always portrayed as being at least slightly insane. Like George’s dad on Seinfeld with Festivus, or the mother from Almost Famous.

To me, it doesn’t seem that insane. Updating our traditions can make them better. I’m not exactly sure what I’m proposing by writing this. I just think rigidity, especially where tradition is concerned, leads to much more harm than good.