I Hereby Resolve (or Not)
I'm not really a New Year resolution type of guy. If something is resolution-worthy, it probably means there are many reasons I haven't reached the goal previously and, rather than pretending that a fresh set of 12 months will lead me to accomplish it, I'm OK with continuing to try while letting the chips fall where they may.
My son is obsessed with Star Wars and likes to quote Yoda. "Do or do not," says the small, green Jedi. "There is no try."
I disagree, although my version isn't as pithy: "Try your best, but do not be surprised if things don't go your way despite your best efforts. You're not in control."
If a resolution requires an inordinate amount of my energy and attention, it probably also means I'm sacrificing something else in another area of my life. So instead of zeroing in on one promise or a particular set of annual promises, I'd rather focus on the promise I made to my wife 11 years ago, the promises I made to my kids when they were born and the many daily promises that arise along the way.
I realize that's a glass-half-empty approach to resolutions, which are inherently optimistic. So don't let my Debbie Downer outlook keep you from making yours. It's quite possible I'm overthinking or oversimplifying. Probably both.
If I had to make one resolution, it would be inspired by my 6-year-old daughter, Maggie. In the fall, she and her older brother were playing on a piece of playground equipment intended for one person. They doubled up, and Maggie's ankle paid the price as they collapsed in a heap. When I saw her attempt to get up and fall right back down, I knew it was going to be fairly serious.
Maggie was stuck with a spiral fracture in her left tibia, which required a giant pink-and-purple cast that extended from her toes to her thigh. She couldn't put any weight on it for three weeks and had to use a walker wherever she went. At school, with the help of many kind friends and staffers, she shuffled around the classroom and used a wheelchair for long distances.
The whole thing was a giant pain. Even when she got a smaller, waterproof cast for the final three weeks, she was slower than everyone else. But the way she handled the entire ordeal was incredible. She barely complained when we moved her bedroom so she wouldn't have to climb stairs. She colored, wrote in her journals, read books.
After the initial fall, Maggie never cried about being left behind or having to change her Halloween costume from a cowgirl to an old lady (that mini walker was just too perfect). Her ability to roll with the punches - her resiliency - was a thing to behold.
Maybe you'll keep all the resolutions you make in 2016. But even Yoda was unable to defeat the Dark Side. (Follow his own advice, he couldn't.) I know I'll break some promises this year - some trivial, some not so trivial. And when that happens, I hope I won't wallow or sulk. I hope I can be as resilient as my daughter, who, while sitting in bed with a broken leg, wrote a note titled "Go with Life." It read, "Life is not always good or bad. Life is an amazing thing to realize."
-Joel Oliphint is a freelance writer who has yet to break a bone but is oddly proud of the matching suture scars he and his son have on their chins.