By Kristeen Bruun
New Year’s Day has come and gone, and I am struggling to convince myself that I will not fall apart when I go back to work on Monday, January 4. But, of course, I will. I had ten of the last 14 days off from work, with just a few minor church commitments that kept me lightly tethered to a common calendar. I realized this morning—okay, let’s be honest, it’s already afternoon—that my biorhythms have completely gone weird. Just the biological pain of the six a.m. alarm clock will be severe. So, to begin with, whatever I may decide to resolve in 2021 will have to wait for my biorhythms to catch up.
There’s the usual: diet and exercise. I’ve bitten this bullet in the past with negative results, and I’m not biting this time. I have a friend who keeps herself in pretty good shape and she remarked recently that she loves this time of year. I asked why and she explained that years ago she quit going to the gym during January when all the newbies show up, but by February, they are all gone, so now she just enjoys the time off and picks back up with her routine in February. Why would I want to join that scrum? My skeletal-looking MD keeps tsk-ing about 20 pounds and my cardiologist doesn’t care about weight at all; he just wants a walk a day. When winter turns to spring (which doesn’t take long in Texas), that might work. By then, I should at least be awake in the daytime… But not now.
I should probably reorganize my spiritual life, but I’m not going to, again, based on past experience. I own enough page-a-day reflections, designed to make life simple if not easy for the neophyte prayer, to open a small bookstore. The best way I know to NEVER open one again is to resolve to read an entry daily. Sometimes I think I must be the most contrary person God ever put on the planet. If I just let the books sit quietly on their shelf, some evening I will wonder what C.S. Lewis or Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Justin Rossow or whomever thinks about some topic, and then I will reach out an arm and find out. It will be challenging or consoling, a real zing, and I’ll live with it for a few days until some other nudge comes along. So, no resolution happening here.
One of my sisters confessed to me that until Covid, she had no idea how much mess she was personally fine living with, and this became a mutual confession, since the same thing happened to me. We both live alone, and so the only person who needs to find anything is each one of us on our own turf. I’d make a resolution to clean the joint up, since the portents are that the quarantine will be lifted some time this year, but, well, the truth is that circumstances will compel this activity—or they won’t. I don’t need a resolution for that!
My final dillydally into the resolution world involves my sometime love affair with writing. My excellent pastor gave a small workshop recently to which I was invited. Part of the workshop involved motivation and how to get things done. One of the methods discussed was called the 20-mile-a-day method. The idea was that a group or an individual will accomplish more by setting a reasonable goal and working in daily increments than by doing the same amount in off-and-on spurts. I know this is true for many achievements, but certainly writing. Robert B. Parker, noted mystery author of the Spenser novels and the Jesse Stone books, became a bestseller by writing a thousand words a day. Every day. No matter what. He died at his word processor. I’d make that resolution in a heartbeat if I thought for one minute that it would not mean the demise of my writing career. I know myself so well that I’m tired of knowing myself. Does that make any sense?
During the days in which I was reflecting on this annual resolution foolishness, I stumbled across a women’s magazine to which I used to subscribe until it ceased publication, but I guess it’s back because there it was on the newsstand in the drugstore. It’s really flossy and no one who knows me has ever thought it fit my personality, but for some reason, it does. (Nobody’s perfectly consistent.) Their lead editorial suggested that a great resolution would be to write a letter a week. (They also sell notecards and stationery.) For many years, until she passed away, I wrote a letter to my mother on Friday night, or sometime over the weekend if Friday night were eclipsed by some other activity. In time, I added a weekly letter to a prisoner on death row until he was executed. It’s been a while since this weekly commitment was part of my life, but I think I could take this practice up again and relish it.
It would be a gift to the recipient (well, I’d like to think it would be a gift). It would involve writing SOMETHING (shhh, don’t say that too loudly), so let’s think of it at least as practice of the craft. It would cast my vision outside myself and link my thoughts, reflections, and prayers to someone else—I think Jesus might favor that. And I don’t have to start until next Friday, when there will already be slightly more light in this part of the universe.
Done. One resolution.
We’ll see how long it lasts.