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The International Writers Magazine: New Year's Resolutions

My Year of Living Dangerously
Caitlin McCallum

New Year's Resolution: three words that simultaneously inspire and terrify me, like Hilary Rodham Clinton or competitive eating contest. Maybe it's because I feel compelled to reflect on the past year, where emotions always hinge on the bittersweet. As an optimist, I try to look on the bright side, that great Valentines Day surprise from a suitor, my first apartment, my best friend's wedding, the fabulous Fourth of July beach parties and celebrating my Grandfather's 80th birthday.

It's about this time that I remove my rose colored glasses. I wonder what happened to that handsome date (I heard the past stint in rehab stuck), remember that my best friend is feverishly researching annulments, am almost able to laugh about sweating with firework holding drunks when all I really wanted was to locate a toilet, which is what my dementia diagnosed Grandpa must experience daily, minus the sparklers.   No. No, no I argue with myself while standing in my "apartment" which is actually a one car garage with one window and single, non functioning radiator. Self pity is the easy way out, misremembering the past, wishing I could do the year over again, but this time with feeling!!!  Maybe it's the word "new" to which I object. The natural comparison with old, reminding me that the present year will soon expire and be placed on a shelf like a high school year book, its original purpose to capture life, now doomed to gather dust. Faces fade, teachers retire, and lessons are forgotten, all culminating in half baked memories. New Year's Resolution, those seven syllables don't terrify me, no. Instead they threaten to haunt all of the things I ought to have done or worse, actions already done and now unable to undo. Emily Dickinson wrote that success is counted sweetest by those who never succeed. How did a recluse know so much about life? Pessimism be damned, I'm inspired once again! There are so many components to how one defines a year. I choose to cherish the good, the bad, the ugly and the unknown.

Last year my resolution was to be fearless, borrowed from a close, older friend. I only mention age as it lends some weight and authority to advice dispensed. And yes, one can borrow or steal N.Y.R. recommendations, it should be encouraged, but I digress. When asked how she maintained her sense of determination and spirit, my wise friend seemed baffled by the question, "I wasted a lot of my youth being afraid of nothing and everything until one morning I woke up and saw how foolish it was. I decided to make it my New Year's Resolution to eliminate unnecessary fear in my life. Do you know what I discovered? That fear thrives on complacency and is absolutely unnecessary."

My friend embodies fearlessness in action: starting her own business, traveling all around the world, competing in triathlons, taking singing lessons, getting divorced and marrying the love of her life. * Ironically it scared me at first, this whole "being fearless," as within the simplicity lay complication, some inherent impossibility. The dichotomy made it all the more intriguing, so I went green, reusing this resolution whilst making a conscious effort to welcome adversity and challenge. Don't get me wrong, my phobias are still flying in all their irrational glory and I've no plans to attend a clown hosted, needle fueled, sloppy joe catered, stethoscope mandated, bopping for apples, Velcro wearing, munchkin themed party. This brings me to my current conundrum: to make a new New Year's Resolution this year. Conquering fear is a lifelong goal and I wanted to stay in that same vein by undertaking some other intangible emotional beast. I resolved to have more patience, but immediately reconsidered. How could I wait for a whole year to see if I could do that? I can hardly wait for the ticker at the bottom of news program scroll across or counting sheep in an effort to fall asleep. It's sort of like when I attempted to give up procrastination; I never got around to doing it. On December 29 th I was jonesing for a resolution and could not help but envy those struggling with addiction. It's a blessing from a N.Y.R. perspective. That said, I could take up filthy habits. Smoking, shoplifting, sleeping with married men and drinking copious amounts of alcohol - which would subsequently explain the first three areas of concern. I'd be a victim, absolved of all responsibility and consequence stemming from my own behavior, like a celebrity or United States senator. In the mean time I'm making a few resolutions that fit into a junkie-esque category: give up dairy, stop checking Perez Hilton on an hourly basis, abstain from overusing the noun/adjective/adverb "genius", calculate simple addition and subtraction in my head and learn how to parallel park. At 24 years old, it's time to stop finger counting and with just under 52 weeks, 12 months, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes and 31,556, 926 seconds I'm confident these are accomplishable resolutions.  I'm not going to waste any time, except for a few thousand stolen seconds on Perez. After all, I once read that every day is about 55 billionths of a second longer than the day preceding it, so it doesn't really count.
*My friend accomplished these feats over the course of one decade, not one year and is ferociously ambitious.

© Cait McCallum 1 January 2008

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