Sara Alexander: Annoying Resolutions

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It is the beginning of a new year which means that friends, even my very best friends, who should know by now how much I distaste making resolutions, are sending me emails with titles like this: "Resolutions For a Life Worth Living: Attainable Aspirations Inspired by Great Humans of the Past (including Seneca, Baldwin, Whitman, Le Guin and more...)."

Or this more benign email from my sister: “The Big Three for 2022”. Her list of resolutions at least was short. Only three items of proposed self-improvement, followed by the simple invitation: “Feel free to share your goals for the New Year if you are so inclined.” I have no such inclination.

And then there was this one from a dear friend: “Resolution Time: A Poem My Neighbor Wrote.” This poem, by the way, included a line that I find quite disturbing:

“No matter what happened
Yesterday or last year
Or in your childhood,
Today is a new beginning…"

Now that I am 74, despite decades of therapy, meditation, and being a therapist – and I do aspire to make courageous choices in the present moment – I am nonetheless more and more convinced that what happened in my childhood will continue to influence most days of my life, like it or not.

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First, when I opened these emails I scowled. Then I ignored them. But eventually, I could not resist writing back, perhaps wishing to participate in the well-intentioned, if hugely annoying, exchange? Or, more likely, just wishing for revenge.

So, I am making my two lists for 2022.

Number 1: I resolve to do what I know I will do anyways. I will binge-watch the third season of Ted Lasso. I will eat baklava for breakfast every day.

Number 2: I am making resolutions, but I am making them backwards for the year that has just ended. I’m compiling a list of everything I accomplished last year. It is, much to my surprise, quite an awesome list. I am having a lot of fun and I am starting to feel pretty darn good.

With a Perspective, this is Sara Alexander.

Sara Alexander is a marriage and family therapist. She lives in San Francisco and Graton.