Welcome to 2006, a new year that will offer more of the same if we let it (and probably even if we don’t). Despite our collective helplessness in the face of Nature — Human and otherwise — we can, however, resolve to do things differently, and better, and with more care.
I join everyone else in the boilerplate New Year’s resolution: losing [insert number here] pounds. This resolution appeals to two impulses, vanity and good health. So let us commence to exercising regularly, eating well, and treating our body as the vessel of God’s intentions, not a receptacle for the detritus of consumer culture.
I resolve also to honor the artistic impulse that we all harbor in varying degrees. In late 2005, I was privileged to witness the artistry of several male singers — Mark Murphy, Zaxariades, and Kurt Elling — and they’ve inspired me to be fearless (or, at least, less fearful) when approaching the profound communicative power of music. Choosing art over commerce isn’t easy if you’re in any way in thrall to the usual hallmarks of success our society promulgates. But at the end of the day — or career or life — art chooses you, and you either go willingly or struggle unhappily, but you never escape. I resolve to give in and accept the consequences graciously.
I resolve to embrace the colossal randomness of life. We operate under the illusion that our fates are tied inextricably to a Higher Power (with a sick sense of humor), or, conversely, to the force of will and effort. The older I get the more I realize that the heartfelt striving and wishing and trying and praying that we all do is a nice outlet for excess energy, but, in reality, rather ineffective. Much of what happens in this universe is a result of momentarily harnessed chaos, of what mathematicians describe as “fluctuation” or “variance.” There’s no good explanation for why a kind woman in her 30s ought to be stricken with cancer, or why a seemingly dull-minded recipient of nepotistic favors ought to rule the nation, or why people on one side of an imaginary borderline ought to have everything and those living on the other side have nothing. Life is not fair, and I resolve to accept the facts while fighting the awful truth until I die.
Which leads to this: I resolve to give more. Of everything.
I resolve to leave this world an infinitesimally better place than I found it.