Commusings: 3 Tips for Your New Year’s Resolutions by Jeff KrasnoDec 29, 2022
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Hello Commune Community,
Happy new year!
With the revelry of the holidays subsiding, we turn our attention to the year ahead with a renewed zeal to be our best selves. However, despite our best intentions, the grand vision we have for ourselves can quickly become blurry. Today’s missive provides some light-hearted guardrails for staying on track.
Personally, I hope to laugh as much as possible in 2023. I hope you’ll join me.
If you’d like to share your resolutions with me, I am mostly here at [email protected] and playing along on IG @jeffkrasno.
In love, include me,
• • •
3 Tips for Your New Year’s Resolutions
Throughout the 90’s and into the aughts, Rachel, our best friend from college, hosted an annual New Year’s Eve party in her downtown Soho art studio. It was a generous alternative to the typical debauchery of lemon drops and tequila shots that generally characterize the ringing in of another year. Rachel had a classier vison for New Year’s Eve. She catered an elegant dinner for fifty denizens of Gotham. Artists, musicians, writers and other creative constituents of the city’s cultural compost all gathered around a single serpentine table that snaked through the middle of the cavernous workspace.
Every year, Schuyler and I dusted off our moth-balled finery and stepped into a Fitzgerald-era, grainy, black-and-white movie. Sparkling and mesmerizing, Schuyler transformed into Daisy Buchanan and I suppose that made me a poor man’s Gatsby. Of course, our chariot would soon turn back into a pumpkin, but the opulence was fun while it lasted.
Rachel had an unwavering custom at this party: duck. Fifty plates of exquisitely prepared roasted waterfowl. I’m not exactly sure why I bristled against the tradition. True, Schuyler and I were collegiate vegetarians back in those days in a grilled cheese and stir-fry sort of way. Maybe it was the young anti-materialist in me or just my contrarian nature. Irrespective of the origin of my intention, I staged a petty annual protest. I boycotted the duck!
I was not foul-mouthed about it, but the un-touched bird on my plate, increasingly limp and cold, made my statement. In retrospect, this remonstration was not only paltry, but also rude. One should never refuse the munificent alms of your host.
Nevertheless, “ducking the duck” became my annual New Year’s resolution. As the year wound down, I would proudly proclaim, “I will consume no duck in 1994!” And I reprised this oath the following year and the year after that and every year since. In fact, I have not ingested a morsel of duck or pheasant or partridge or any species of guinea or peafowl since I was an adolescent listening to Tears for Fears.
You may scoff at this admittedly pathetic accomplishment. But my tradition was not without some utility. Of course, this resolution was co-mingled with many of the more onerous promises one typically makes to oneself:
I vow to be a better man next year than I was last year. I will exercise every day, stop drinking, quit smoking, take up a hobby, get my finances in order, travel the world, slow down, make more time for friends, be more loving, forgive those who have wronged me and on and on. Of course, the vast majority of the time, these pledges are swept into the dustbin of noble intentions.
Sure, I have followed through on some resolutions here and there. The only way to truly reify them is to make them subconscious involuntary behaviors. While I have adopted many good habits, I don’t pretend to wear one. My vices are on full display – here and elsewhere.
However, here’s the point. It’s vitally important for one’s self-esteem to have one resolution that you can categorically and confidently keep. Eschewing duck, as easy as it has been, gives me some needed momentum in the dawn of the new year. And if I can keep one promise to myself, just maybe I can keep another.
Tip #1: Pick one resolution you absolutely know that you can keep.
Now, you may justifiably aspire to greater achievements than shunning waterfowl. But beware! The moment you begin to walk the path of liberation, the instant that you align your works and actions with your highest principles … the creditors come knocking!
The Hindus and the Buddhists have curious insight here. When you attempt to step out of the bhavachakra, the karmic wheel, the endless cycle of death and rebirth known as samsara governed by the laws of cosmic retribution and cause and effect, when you do this … you are almost immediately tested.
For example, the moment you vow to get your financial ship in order who comes to pay a visit but an IRS official with an inquiry about your 2015 tax return. Or perhaps an old college buddy who bought too much crypto calls in a long-forgotten loan.
Maybe you’ve adopted a plant-focused, low-glycemic diet. You’re on an intermittent fasting protocol. You’re even braving cold showers. Good for you! You’ve made it two full-days with no sugar. But, of course, you’re also on the treadmill and your mitochondria need an energy source. In the absence of glucose, your body starts breaking down fat. Hallelujah, you’re in ketosis!
But, wait, you feel like crap. Well, it turns out that toxins (and many middle-aged Jewish men) are lipophilic. They love fat! Concomitant with the breakdown of adipocytes, toxins are being released into your bloodstream. Your virtue and discipline are making you feel temporarily awful.
Of course, if you just stick with it and walk in the footsteps of your highest self then you will overcome these obstacles. But know this … you will be tested!
Tip #2: Know that you will be almost immediately tested — and have a plan.
2023 just might be the year you quit drinking once and for all. The increasingly brutal hangovers outweigh the fleeting release of inhibitions that alcohol can elicit. But take heed. You never want to quit drinking for an entire year because, if you make this claim, the devil will know that he has 365 days to tempt you back to the bottle.
Do you think the freshly-baptized Jesus divulged the duration of his walkabout in the desert? Do you think he let Satan know in advance that he’d be fasting in the Judean sand for 40 days?
In his dealing with the devil, Jesus was cunning. Just for today, he would refuse the temptation of bread out of stones. Just for today, he would pass on dominion over all earthly kingdoms. Jesus would take it up with the devil again tomorrow. Eventually, Satan got bored with these negotiations and left town and the angels soon appeared to minister a feast.
These mythical tales may be canards, but the dispositive piece of advice here is written into many popular methods and traditions. Whatever you seek to instantiate into your life must be accomplished one day at a time.
Tip #3: Take your resolutions one day at a time.
I hope these resolution hacks serve you well. And, if you trip and fall, get back up. Seven times down, eight times up. That is life. So, the Zen monks say.
The window of free will may be barely cracked but you do have some agency over where you focus our attention moment to moment. And, with every new moment, there is a resurrection, a renewed opportunity to align yourself with your highest principles.
It’s never too late to turn your ducking life around.
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