Sunday, January 3, 2010

Every Given Sunday

I like New Year's Day. I always have. It marks the end of a cycle and offers the hope of new beginnings. It gives us a harbor from which to embark upon re-commitments - to diet, to exercise, to our relationships, or in my wife's case, to being less critical of me. In her defense, I can make this very challenging, and just knowing it's her resolution will compel me to redouble my efforts.

Do we really need an arbitrary day to commence to improve our lives? Absolutely not. It could be any day. But haven't most of us indulged in a little trickery when it comes to time? Who hasn't thought, "Now that I'm 25, 30, 40, ... I really need to start/stop/improve/pay attention to something that has been present/missing/rusty/taken for granted." It's human nature to landmark potential changes in our lives. "Today," we often say, "is the first day of the rest of my life." And apparently so is tomorrow.

Personally, I used to vow to stop drinking, smoking, eating, dating, lying every other Sunday for years - not because I'm religious, but because weekends were rarely a time of resolve. Sunday's commitments were often postponed until Monday, then the next month, then an upcoming holiday, my birthday, other peoples' birthdays, and so on. Eventually, it would be New Year's again and I would alternate annually between resolving not to not make any resolutions and embracing my extreme nature with the certainty that I would be a monk and a triathlete by year's end.

Today we begin both a new year and a new decade. I am thirty-eight years old, I am not monastic in the least, and I am barely a uni-athlete. What I am is a first time father, and that has changed everything. In the months leading up to Amari's birth I found myself doing things with a new intention - to ensure that I don't die any time soon, that I stick around to be her dad for as long as possible. I began to eat better, workout harder, go to bed earlier. I'm not always successful, but rather than giving up and waiting for an arbitrary do-over date, I recommit myself immediately. I'm a man of inertia - like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. The drawback is that when I'm "rotten" I often give up entirely - until the following week, month, year, landmark birthday.

Now I embrace my extreme nature without visions of Thai monasteries or an indifferent life of gluttony, and I temper it by making vague and flexible goals. For example, I resolve to lose a pound for every one Amari gains. That way, if I balk on my commitment I can always dilute her formula and slow her down, too. Now that I know how to quiet a starving baby, this will be no problem. In all seriousness, and in the spirit of balance and ambiguity, I offer my intentions for 2010:

1. To do the best I can as a father and a husband.

2. To treat work with the same passion and commitment as family.

3. To see old friends and to make new ones as often as possible.

4. To laugh and play and do something for others every day.

5. To have less: sugar, meat, dairy, television, judgment, and unfinished projects.

6. To have more: exercise, ritual, conscious communication, and outdoor activity.

7. To improve: my garden, my counseling skills, my ability to focus.

8. To continue: reading, learning, and writing.

9. To begin: regular play dates with Noah and Reya.

10. To end: this entry.

Happy New Year, Amari.

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