Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?
I’m going to upset the apple cart a bit on that. Instead of big promises, I’m going to reflect on my many failures and few successes in 2017.
Again I boastfully announced my annual resolution to lose weight and improve my health. I did neither. I paid for a gym plan that I never followed through on. I bought new sneakers and running gear only to race to sit down at the end of the day. The early mornings were no better as I drove past gyms and inviting parks to and from work.
The worst part now is that I have become a pretty good cook. What is to become of me now?
I said I would be better at planning and getting organized. No more scrambling at the last minute because I failed to plan. But alas, that was a plan that lasted a couple months and then was buried on that scrap heap built on top of plans never committed. As they say “failure to plan is a plan to fail.” Even this column was nearly two hours late.
For the umpteenth year I was going to do more volunteering for wonderful causes in my community. My goodness how many times did I think about it or see chances to help on social media or drove right past an outreach effort on my way home.
Sure, I gave a few donations, but those help-my-neighbor causes need boots on the ground and people reaching out their hands to others. I know this and have preached it, so I wound up a hypocrite.
Reaching into a checkbook was not enough. Like a great running back, I ran through and around their hands-on needs.
I was going to find more time for myself. I was going to locate that feel-good special space where I could think awesome thoughts, meditate or I could read the wonderful writers of our day.
It was going to be reminiscent of ninth grade when Mrs. Elnora Jones, my English teacher, inspired me to read famous authors I had never heard of. Well, it didn’t happen this year. I was thwarted by laziness, too much TV and a lot of focus on the shenanigans of you know who.
And, for the umpteenth year in a row, I didn’t start that great novel that I know is somewhere inside me. I continued to ignore that voice in my head and the urging of friends asking: “Ed when are you going to write a book?” Soon, hopefully soon.
But it was not all awash this past year. I worked with my high school classmates for something meaningful. We cleaned chicken together and some cleaned chitterlings (I was there in spirit only for the chitterlings.). I helped fry fish and helped barbecued ribs for dinners we sold to fund a cruise for classmates whose homes were damaged in the “Flood of 2016.”
We gave needy students at our alma mater, McKinley High in old South Baton Rouge, enough food for Thanksgiving and meals before and beyond that holiday. We gave gifts of money to deserving and financially struggling students. To see the joy on their faces and the tears in their mother's and grandparent's eyes made up for almost all of the negative stuff.
One classmate described how she was swept up emotionally when a grandparent said she would not have been able to give a grandson a gift on Christmas had it not been for us. That young man was a last-minute replacement on our list of recipients. “I think God directed us to that boy’s family,” my classmate said.
For all of my losses, that was a big win for 2017.
And, tonight I will be with many more of my classmates. We hope to have a great time. We always do. It has been 45 years since we graduated from high school. That’s a long time. But, for a few hours I will be able to bury the failings of 2017, and rejoice, if only momentarily, in the good stuff.
For 2018, I will make no resolutions that I most surely will fail at. But, I do know that my classmates will develop a plan to help more children in 2018. Because of that, I know I will be part of at least something that will help someone else.
No etched-in-sand plans for me in 2018. I will join those anonymous souls who arise every morning just trying to be the best they can that day. And, if in doing so I become a better husband, father, grandfather, brother, man, etc… then it’s game, set and match for me. That’s it. That will be enough and then some.
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at email@example.com.