New Year’s Delusions

140103 New Year's Delusionsby Mike McHugh

The start of a new year means different things among people. To many, it means hope—hope for personal growth, hope for greater world peace, hope that some new fad will come along to displace twerking.

To me, it doesn’t mean much besides writing the wrong date on my checks for the next month or so. That and the fact that I have a whole three and a half months to put off completing my tax return.

As you might tell, I’m not much for using the New Year as a reason to set goals or make resolutions. I know a lot of people do, providing me good reason to avoid going to the gym during January, along with shorter lines at the fast-food drive through.

It’s not that I have no desire to better myself. I do, and I have a shelf full of self-improvement books to prove it.  I’ve read them all, and they’ve had the same impact as watching exercise videos while sitting on the couch eating butter pecan ice cream.

I have tried the resolution thing in years past. With the approach of a new year, I would envision a new “me”—one that would no longer be a slave to the snooze button, the TV remote, and the speed-dial number for Domino’s. I’d make an effort to have my life catch up from being always fifteen minutes behind and growing. At the rate I was going, I’d be ringing in the New Year sometime the following March.

But despite my best intentions, I’d always fall back to old habits. I wondered for a long time what it was that held me from keeping my promises, and I think I’ve finally figured it out. Somewhere in my subconscious, perhaps, I saw the “new self” that I was aiming to become and didn’t particularly like him.

Perhaps my inner mind saw a buddy calling me to go out and have a few beers over a game of pool, with me refusing to instead accompany my wife to buy a new evening gown (or worse, two, due to my pledge of increased generosity). It might have foreseen a sudden inability to engage in casual conversation because, no, I didn’t catch the Saints game over the weekend, opting instead to curl up with a William Faulkner novel.

“Who’s Faulkner?” my psyche would envision my friends asking. “Is he that new defensive end for Carolina?”

It was sparing me the embarrassment of having to politely refuse the seafood gumbo and potato salad that our good friend, Sarah, slaved over all day. It saw her petitioning the Governor to have me deported back to Yankee Land as a result. My subconscious knew better than me and was saving me from myself.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have anything against other people making New Year’s resolutions. When my friends share theirs with me, I always wish then the best of luck on following through.

And when they fail, I always know where to hang my coat when I come to visit—on the new exercise machine.

Fleur White Small

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