My friend, who’s a better version of me than I am – you know, she doesn’t bumble and mumble or hesitate, she worries less about being good than doing right and does right with grace and compassion, cheerfulness and clarity – shared her New Year’s resolutions with me the other day.
Laurie explained she had a tradition of not making resolutions – for the New Year anyway. They’re just more things to feel guilty about when she doesn’t follow through or her plans don’t pan out. Technically, she reasoned, “Shouldn’t we make resolutions every day?
“I keep the list short,” she added. Short enough they can be embroidered on a small pillow top. I know. I’ve seen the cushion.
Sort of like the old Swedish proverb printed on a calendar I had 20 years ago.
“Fear less, hope more. Eat less, chew more. Whine less, breathe more. Talk less, hear more. Hate less, love more and all good things will be yours.”
But Laurie said 2018 was going to be different. She buried her beloved father and dear brother in 2017. She sorted, moved, stored, redistributed and disposed of her parents’ household belongings. The task was arduous, and a true labor of love. She was brought to tears at times by the things her mother had put up and put away to save for good – and never used. The money they left in their estate was nice, certainly; but goodness gracious, the way her parents had scrimped, saved and done without, it made her sad to think it could have afforded them comfort and pleasure in the final years of their long, happy and adventure-spent marriage.
Still, the list of her 2018 New Year’s resolution was extremely short, and to the point.
“Celebrate life,” she said.
And she explained, “I have let many celebrations slide by because of timing. The thought, ‘Let’s wait until life gets better’ is a lame excuse. Last year, after losing beloved family members, there was no celebrating of birthdays, anniversaries, etc. and in hindsight, I realize that life is slipping by and I need to embrace it with the loved ones I have with me.
“So I am planning to celebrate. I am alive, I am surrounded by wonderful people who love me, and I do not need to waste time. Life is short.”
Well, Laurie may have been a little hard on herself. She’s a lady, who will pull her husband out onto the dance floor as soon as the music starts; will take out the recipe books and bake, stew, simmer and sautée all sorts of culinary delights – favorite cakes like her mother baked; wonderful meals for her family; or great dishes to comfort a friend who is grieving or sick. With her handsome Brittany spaniel, Gus, Laurie will pour a cup of coffee and sit and watch the sun come up, and after a productive day of work or pleasure, they will retire to the porch – her with a glass of wine, Gus to catch a short nap before bedtime, and enjoy the process of the sun going down.
Oh, and there is this that I know. If you’re in the Tuesday morning Bible study Laurie leads, she provides a great lesson and brings chocolate to share.
Will Laurie meet and keep her New Year’s resolution for 2018? I have not a doubt. And like I said, at the start of this column, since I already consider Laurie a better version of me than I am, I’m adopting her same resolution.
For some reason, that reminded me of an excerpt of a book (part of a series of excellent books) I was introduced to last year, “The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents,” by William Martin.
Perhaps you’ve seen it in a Facebook meme. Martin advises parents to help their children find “the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
“Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears,” Martin teaches. “Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them.
“The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
A whole lot of days are left in 2018. I expect in at least part of each one, I will find something to celebrate; people and other living things to care for; and something to do that I’m able to do to make the ordinary take an extraordinary shine.
Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.