Photo: Jack Rabbit at Mace Ranch Wildlife Area, Davis, CA.
Whenever December 31st rolls around we begin to look over our shoulders at the preceding 12 months and write out our mental lists of resolutions for the New Year. Lists that hint at the transgressions of the past year, the failed promises, the broken dreams, the realization that more than half the resolutions we set for ourselves last January 1st never came close to fruition. But we still make our lists. Perhaps for some as a way to make amends for all the Catholic, Jewish, or Conservative Christian guilt and angst that is carried heavily on the shoulders. We seek penance for the things we did or did not do for the sake of pleasing those invisible powers that be. For others its answering that lifelong desire to become a more goal-oriented and organized individual by making endless lists only to lose them in the piles of paper we haven’t yet filed from previous years to-do’s. For others, that list marks a new beginning. An opportunity to recreate who they are into the fantasized “perfect” human being they now desire to be.
During the various phases of my life I have made all of those lists for all of the aforementioned reasons. So it’s with honesty I must confess; I have failed miserably with each one of them. My internal self always balked at making these resolutions but I always ignored the whisperings. I would sit with my pen and paper following the festivities of the Eve before and begin to jot my numbered list in no predetermined order, more of a brainstorming, freethinking barrage of “want to’s for a better me”. I would tack those lists on my refrigerator, next to my computer monitor or bathroom mirror as a daily reminder that I still had a long way to go to become the person I really should be. As time would pass, the lists would feel foreboding and luminous reminders that I only had a few more months to reach those stated goals. Overwhelmed, I would move them off the refrigerator, away from my monitor or into the bathroom trash. Another year would pass with a bucket full of regrets and I would feel like a failure of resolve yet once again.
Maybe it’s that magical age of 50 that begins to alter one’s thoughts, when you finally realize you have wasted about half of your life wishing for things you will never have and wanting to be someone who you will never truly be. You begin to realize that the grass isn’t really greener on the other side. It is all just an illusion to drive you mad like the Greyhound who chases the rabbit that is always just out of reach. Round and round the track you go, certain you will catch that rabbit and life will be complete, until exhaustion and reality hit you like a fist upside the head and you collapse just short of the finish line, no rabbit to be seen. Then one day you realize you have failed to truly live the life you have been given. You were always waiting for that proverbial ship to sail in or your luck to change through some flick of a magic wand. And you spend your last waning hours flogging yourself in regret for the things that never were.
In the past few years I have made the peaceful decision to say “screw the rabbit!” I have everything that I want in the palm of my hand and am everyone I need to be in this very moment in time. So no more lists. No more empty resolutions. And definitely, never again, a single ounce of regret!
Happy New Year!