Resolution worth keeping

After our three daughters had grown and left the nest, Betsy and I observed the changing of the year by treating ourselves to a dinner at a fine restaurant. Relaxing with these meals, we sipped wine, quietly reflected on the year that was ending, and ventured our predictions of what the new year might bring for us and our family. We loved this custom and its intimacy.

We don’t do this anymore. Since the summer of 2018, Betsy has suffered medical challenges that render such outings infeasible. We do continue to have such conversations, though, and enjoy them.

How do you mark the changing of the year? The way you approached this year’s celebration probably differed from previous ones. Covid and its variations made certain of this. We differ about so many issues now, but most of us seem to agree that we have had our fill of 2021. What will change in 2022?

In this new year, how many of us will die at the wrong end of a gun in the hands of a fool? How many will die or grieve the death of a loved one because we or they refused to let the government tell them how to protect themselves and others from disease? How many of us will know hunger? Live on the streets? Be deported?

Long life has taught me the folly of making resolutions that are too hard to keep. But like you, I have tried. This year, I will try again — this time by following my own advice that I have shared with others.

When a daughter or one of my students on occasion approached me expressing frustration because of a personally unpleasant situation, I would advise her or him to search for some other person who also is going through a rough patch. Concentrate your energy on helping that person, I would suggest. Make it your mission. Find a way. You know you can do this.

When we do this, truly work at it, our own problems feel less important. That’s desirable, of course, but the best part is that we help someone else.

Ourself, too, and this is the real payoff. This is how I will celebrate this new year.

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