Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Hereby Resolve

According to some historical sources, the tradition of the New Year's resolutions goes back to 153 B.C. It was then that Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar.
With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
Historians don't tell us, however, when the first resolution was broken. I peg it at one minute after midnight, 153 B.C. thereby starting an entirely new tradition, one that continues unabated to this day.
For example, I resolved not to write any more columns on lightweight topics like new year's resolutions. And, well, here I am.
No less an authority than the U.S. government says the most popular resolutions are to lose weight, pay off debt, save money, get a better job, get fit, eat right, get a better education, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, reduce stress, take a trip, help others.
A poll taken by Marist College has losing weight at the top of the list. In a tie for second is "be a better person" and "stop smoking."
Pollsters from the college's Institute of Public Opinion surveyed nearly 1,300 people. And the survey found 71 percent of men and 57 percent of women say they stuck to their resolutions of last year.
Apparently, "telling the truth" doesn't rank high on the resolution scale.
All of this data reveals a kind of schizophrenic quality to our lives. We eat like there's no tomorrow over the holidays, then vow to lose weight in a cycle that repeats itself every year.
We go head over heels in debt, then promise not only to pay off debt but save money at the same time, a road Bill Gates would have trouble traveling.
We try to stop drinking and smoking at the same time we try to reduce stress, which led us to drinking and smoking in the first place.
And how can you be a better person or help others if you're overweight, unfit, under educated, in debt, drinking, smoking and stressed out? Mother Theresa couldn't do it.
So I resolve to eliminate all resolutions.
Instead, I suggest we adopt "new rules" for the new year. I offer these examples as formulated by comedian/ social commentator George Carlin:

"Stop giving me that pop-up ad for! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: mowing my lawn. "Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Trout? "Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? OK, we're done. "I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount, deciding, "No, I don't want cash back", and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy. "If you're going to insist on making movies based on... old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie. "No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the Caucasian version of looting. "

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