When I told my wife Amy that I was drafting a New Year’s resolutions column for North Forty News, she sarcastically noted that New Year’s resolutions were essentially promises to address one’s shortcomings. And, since she skeptically presumed that I have no intention of seeing any of these ‘promises’ fulfilled, maybe I should just write a column about my many faults and save the insincerity.
While Amy’s point was well taken, it’s not that I haven’t made and kept New Year’s resolutions before; it’s just that it’s the same one every year, namely that I’ll have even less tolerance for other people’s foibles, follies and faults than in previous years. And while that perpetual commitment has served me well as subject matter for several of my NFN columns, a well-intentioned self-improvement plan once a year can’t hurt anything, hence the following:
I resolve to be more careful about patronization, a common dictionary definition of which is: ‘treat in a way that is apparently kind or helpful but that betrays a feeling of superiority; to adopt an air of condescension toward’. With that in mind, I’ll no longer suggest to anyone the considerable value I’ve found in regular exercise, eating healthy and especially, not using a commissioned investment broker.
I resolve to be more accepting of parents at the neighborhood pool who can’t take their eyes off their phones to watch their children. Not having children of my own, I obviously can’t comprehend the relative importance of staying current on one’s Facebook page versus the safety of one’s offspring.
And speaking of cell phones, I must become more tolerant of distracted drivers, including the one in my neighborhood who almost hit me the other day. I should have more appreciation for how important it is to check your emails and texts before you get to wherever you’re going.
I also must be more tolerant of excuse-making and a lack of personal accountability—blame it on something or somebody else, don’t admit you’re wrong. Nobody wants to own any missteps anymore. It’s all about ‘me’. If nobody’s wrong, who’s right? I know, it’s tough being responsible.
I resolve to make better use of ‘reverse psychology decision making’. That’s a tactic I use at election time when I’m uncertain how to vote. I know people whose opinion I can ask, then I vote the opposite way, confident that I got it right. I’m now using this approach at home too on other decision making.
I resolve to have more empathy for those people who complain but never do anything to bring about change. I know firsthand that it takes courage to rock the boat, and one can always hope that someone else will pull the oars for you.
I resolve that I must quit reminding drivers of electric vehicles that their supposed non-polluters are really powered by dirty old coal.
I resolve not to dignify an irrational argument with a retort. My smug look just means I don’t have a problem letting you think you’re right.
And to appease Amy: I won’t play my drums when you’re sleeping if you won’t play the Kardashians when I’m sleeping.
Finally, I resolve not to keep up with the Joneses; rather, to be the Joneses.
Meanwhile, I acknowledge that my annual resolution for ever-lessening tolerance of others’ foibles, follies and faults may seem heartless to some. However, I keep hearing from readers that they relate to my intolerance, so that’s a resolution I’ll keep making.
But don’t hold me to all the rest of this.
Phil Goldstein writes Tales from Timnath periodically for North Forty News. Phil is an 11-year Timnath resident who proudly serves the Town of Timnath as chair of the Timnath Planning Commission. Phil is finally using his journalism degree after getting sidetracked 48 years ago. The views expressed herein are Phil’s only. Contact him with comments on the column or suggestions for future columns at NFNTimnath@gmail.com.