New Year Resolution

Entry by: jaguar

6th January 2015
Every seven years I think a New Year's Resolution could change my life. I think I can escape the round and round of the scalextric track and travel across country in my off-roader. My skeleton of experiences and choices won't trap me in my current awkward pose. My brain's tendons will snap back straight and not be distorted to support my world view. Yet life must be filtered somehow. If it wasn't you'd be a rabbit in the headlights of death's over-powering glare.

New Year Resolution making started when I was ten. Such a solemn, steadfast child loving his parental ciphers as if they were warm and real. Wanting to be what they valued more than anything - an intellectual. It's impossible to be an intellectual child. You will always disappoint. You are water as a child - moving, reflecting, changing, filling, wetting. Adults are cliffs ground down to rocks and sand. Your warm waves will fall short of their steep beach. My presence unsettled my mother and father. They sent me away to school at nine. I resolved to become someone they might love. Every year I found a new way I could fail.

When I was seventeen I resolved to only be interested in girls who were interested in me. It didn’t work out although I persisted. I found the gawky, clever, unpopular ones exactly like me. We stood stolidly in front of each other waiting for sex to begin. The thing about mirrors is they need something moving to reflect. What’s a still room with no one to see it? Put a flame in and it will dance on its own and draw everybody in.

Then I got drawn in a bit too much. Girls like Tricia, a cliched redhead with a copper for a dad. Searing heat that sucked you dry of oxygen and left you gasping. At twenty-four I resolved to find the one. I tried them on like ill-fitting coats. I willed my mind to bloat out or shrink in to match theirs. I ran with the Plato myth of love. Humans once had four legs and arms but one heart. The gods sliced them in two to stop their pesky challenging. So the other half of my whole was out there somewhere. I just had to find her. Or maybe she wasn't. This might be the lifetime I learnt to live without love. Maybe next time round.

At thirty-one I drank too much every night and cavorted on the edge of giving up all year. I knew it made physical sense. I knew it could keep me free of the shame soot I often got covered in. Yet a part of me wondered if a sober me would ever laugh, dance or feel with abandon. Would the self I preserved be worth knowing at all? That little prim, knotted-up self that tried so hard. I kept the sober resolution in the end. I still laugh, dance and feel. Perhaps more precisely but it happens all the same. I weave some juice from the threads.

At thirty-eight I resolved to make the big decisions. Accept the swill of her luke-warm affection that then dampened my socks for years. Propose with false cheer to someone whose waves fall short of my beach. Have the baby, follow the well-worn path to knackered non-entity.

Which led to the identity loss years. At forty-five I thought all it would take was a shaving off to give me back myself. If I could reveal more angles I would be sharper and more worthy. I could demonstrate to the world that I loved myself so they should love me too. I am the perfect husband and father. They say these words and I think it's not worth listening to them. They're not intellectuals, they couldn't be if they tried. Neither am I because I don't feel the way I was supposed to. I didn't realise joy and content are as similar as beginnings and endings.

Last year I resolved to move on from this. I vowed to make my life worth living again. I would keep trying new things until I found my true purpose. My mother and father took up hang-gliding in their seventies. I started with the sensible health check before I tried anything that extreme. Unfortunately my first new experience was an operation. Then I tried chemotherapy followed by full-blown despair. I'd done what I was meant to do. I'd ticked the boxes but got nothing in return. Even the stuff I bought got obsolete. Nothing was tangible, nothing mattered.

You know what? This year I resolve to get life. So I won’t make another New Year’s Resolution even if I'm still around to do so. The irony is that one of new things really did make me happier. It even made me feel loved. My cancer diagnosis. It twisted my face away from the mirror and into the flame. It said I had to dance right here and now. With the people holding their hands out to me.