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Truth & Resolutions


If you’re anything like me, this is the week that you make your yearly resolutions with the full desire to stick to them and with the full knowledge that you likely won’t.

Allow me to quote from my journal entry of January 29, 1983: It is almost a month since I said that I was going to put my life into some semblance of order and make time for myself. And guess what? I was completely incorrect. Also, I didn’t work fewer hours as I had planned or figure out a way to spend more time with my friends and my mother, or exercise, diet, sew, stop freaking out about things I didn’t do well or break up with boyfriend X who was kinda boring. And frankly, dear readers, I rarely managed to succeed with most of my resolutions in 1984, 1985, 1986, or any of the 2+ decades since.

(I have only a slightly better track record with those promises I make to myself at Rosh Hashanah, even though the gates of heaven, the book of life, and the threat of drowning (fire, disease, etc.) are all there, urging me on.)

Anyway, as the  year’s turning approaches, I’m put in mind of Jacob (the patriarch, not my grandson) — how, even after he saw angels climbing back and forth to heaven, even after God’s promises of a fruitful lineage, makes a vow that goes something like this: If God protects me on this journey into the unknown & gives me bread and clothing, if I return safe to my father’s house, then I will take this particular god as my God.

There’s a lot of if this, then that in the Torah (that’s the whole idea of covenant), but there’s something shockingly refreshing about Jacob’s bold-faced declaration of “what have you done for me lately?” He’s a product oriented guy, a bottom line patriarch not that interested in the process of God.

Which brings me back to New Year’s resolutions. Seems to me that they’re composed of 2 possible truths: the final and measurable product (did I lose those 10 pounds? visit my mother more often?) and the trajectory of the process any resolution requires (turns out my visits to Mom worked out best if I brought chocolates). Resolutions are a challenge, a wish, and a measuring stick. They tell us as much about what we want as what we’re capable of, and we make them despite previous evidence that they’ll likely not work. There’s something delightful and chutzpahdik about this covenant-making with ourselves.

So this week, I’ll revisit and reconsider the major themes in my life (do I really want to work less? be thinner? accept what I’ll never be good at?). A list will be made, numbered, and recorded. On January 1, a new era will begin. I’m anticipating failure already.

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