#51) New Year’s resolutions inspired by 2012

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as if 2012 was a year when the world was on edge.  From the tragic shootings in Connecticut, Colorado and Oregon to the acrimony of the presidential campaigns and election, it’s enough to make me understand why some many people believed in the Mayan Apocalypse.  It’s gotten me thinking about ways to make 2013 better.  Most of these are not goals I think are realistic to keep for the full year; rather they are more like “projects”; periods of sacrifice or behavior change, along the lines of Lent.  Perhaps as a result, the new behavior after the goal is completed.  We’ll know in 365 days.

1) Read at least one article/blog post/etc. that contradicts your beliefs.  Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, pro-choice or pro-life, you can learn a lot from at least understanding the other side’s point of view. You may be even more convinced your own opinion is right, but the best way to be a solid debater is to know the other side’s arguments.

2) Idiot Driver Amnesty Day.  No matter where you live, whether you commute by car, bus, bike, skateboard or foot, odds are you have to deal with drivers who are dangerous, selfish, distracted or just plain not that bright.  I propose picking one day and simply forgiving drivers for these transgressions. I’m not suggesting a lack of follow-up if an accident occurs; I’m not suggesting you don’t use your horn for safety.  But don’t flip the bird; don’t flash your lights at the person in front of you, no matter how slowly they’re driving.  Is it a drag to be late to work because of slow traffic?  Of course it is.  It’s not the end of the world.  I don’t mind saying that this resolution is probably the one which with I will have the most difficulty.

3) Radio Silent Hour Week.  Every day for one week, disconnect from all media for one hour.  No email, voicemail, Facebook updates, tweets, Youtube; you get the idea.  Will you lose clients because you don’t get back to them quickly?  Maybe.  I recently missed a gig because when the call came in, I was having sex with my wife.  I am not sure that, should a similar situation arise in the future, I would do things any differently.

4) Piss someone off.  Huh?  Isn’t this supposed to be about making the world a better place and making our own life better?  Well, when I suggest pissing someone off, I don’t mean going out of the way to do it; I simply mean, saying “no” when you mean “no”; not doing something for someone else that benefits only them.  Someone once said that if everyone likes you, you’re not doing your job.  I forget who they were, but they were right.

5) Facebook free day.  Exactly what it sounds like.  You can always see pictures of your co-worker’s kids, pithy political cartoons and game invitations tomorrow.  As for your own posts: quality over quantity, people.

6) Media free food week.  Huh?  Yes, media free food week.  In other words: don’t eat in front of the TV.  Don’t eat while talking on your phone.  Don’t eat while driving.  Don’t eat while surfing the web.  Next to #2, this will probably be the toughest one on the list for me – but I’m giving it a shot.  Studies have linked eating in front of the TV (and one can reasonably conclude that the computer and its kin are also guilty) to weight gain; check out this article for more information.

7) Twitter free year.  Yes, year.  I have to say that while every technology and every website has its good and bad sides, with Twitter, the negative far outweighs the positive.  Lots of people have been disciplined over poorly timed tweets, whether it was Boston College soccer player Stephanie McCaffrey or collegiate football player Bradley Patterson.  True, one can always refrain from making offensive tweets, but regardless, what has Twitter really done for you lately?  We all loved watching Obama use it to build support in ’08, but I can’t help but feel as if the site’s days as an agent for publicity are done.  Maybe I’m wrong and will be eating my words at this time next year; all hating can be directed to @dlockeretz.

8) Write a letter.  A letter to the editor, a letter to a friend, a letter to family.  No postcards; you will probably do those anyways.  No holiday card either; no one wants to hear about how great your year was when theirs sucked.  While I have handwriting that is worse than any right-handed person I know (and I have a substantial number of the lefties beat too), I enjoy busting out the pen and paper from time to time; it’s a little more personal than an email or a text message.

9) Listen to one record that you haven’t heard before.  By record, I mean physical recording – compact disc, LP record, cassette, 8-track, wax cylinder.  Start to finish, no media interruptions, no conversations.  Maybe this is just the reactionary musician who doesn’t want to get with the times going on a rant, but just try it.  You might discover something new.  Might I suggest Donald Fagen’s “The Nightfly” or Charles Mingus’s “Ah Um.” As with #8, I”m not trying to fight the new; I’m just suggesting that maybe the old isn’t completely obsolete.  Tweet @dlockeretz if you disagree.

10) Visit one place that you’ve never heard of.  Most people reading this probably use Google Maps or Mapquest to look up directions to appointments and meetings.  If you’ve done this, perhaps you’ve noticed a park, a local business or some other site that looks interesting, but never got around to checking it out.  I say: check it out!  You might even find a good hiking trail near you.  Not that I have any kind of vested interest in getting people interested in hiking, of course.

Thanks for reading & happy new year!

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