I am resolved

Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark, it's midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year!
— Ogden Nash
From Collected Verse from 1929 on

Yes, we've finally reached that fateful day, the day when the clock takes on the aura of a time bomb as it counts down the final hours of the old year and points toward the new year to come with all of its possibilities.

It's a time for retrospection as we think of the year 2012, now almost finished. What did we accomplish this year? What did we fail to do that we should have done? What are our triumphs? What are our despairs? And, most importantly, how can we improve and get it all right in the bright, shiny new year just peeking over our windowsills? That's where resolutions come in, of course.

As I think about what I would like to do to perfect myself in 2013, several things come to mind that I might resolve. A number of them have to do with reading.

Read more classics. I have to accept the fact that there are more great books out there than I will ever be able to complete reading in my lifetime, but that's no reason not to try, starting perhaps with American classics. I read one Faulkner book this year and was amazed once again by its power. There are others of his books that I've never read. I've never read Henry James. I've never read Saul Bellow. I've only read a couple of Toni Morrison's books. So many... I can't wait to get started.

Stick closer to my diet. This is a natural, the resolution that so many, myself included, make every year. I just got good news from my doctor concerning my latest lab work, a good incentive for me to be ever more diligent for the sake of my health.

Take more birding trips. So many birds, so little time. I added a few life birds this year, but not as many as I might have if I had tried just a little harder. I resolve to try harder in 2013.

Spend time every day writing. I'll never win the Pulitizer Prize or write the great American novel, but I can perfect the small skill that I have. It just takes practice and dedication. Expressing myself through the written word is an important part of my life and I need to work on it every day of my life.

Be diligent in support of the causes I care about. The environment, better schools for children, animals' rights, food safety, reducing gun violence, promoting peace in the world, and so many more - they are all big issues, bigger than I can get my arms around, but I must do what I can. That is the most - and the least - I can do.

Learn more about photography. I enjoy photography, especially photographing birds, but I'm strictly self-taught. I could benefit from actually getting some classroom instruction on how to be a better photographer. Maybe this will be the year that I finally sign up for that photography course at the local college.

Read Louise Erdrich from the beginning. I just got her latest book, The Round House, for Christmas and it has reminded me of what a great writer she is and of how much I've probably missed by reading her works, helter-skelter over the years. I think it would be wonderful to start with Love Medicine and read all the way through The Round House. I hope to do that this year.

Read more non-fiction. I am addicted to fiction, especially literary fiction and I read it voraciously. Normally, I spend less time in the non-fiction world. My aim in 2013 is to read at least one non-fiction book a month.

Exercise! Yes, I know, this is another one that we make every year, but exercise is so important for the brain as well as the body that it is necessary to keep rededicating ourselves to try to get more of it into our routines. We are much too sedentary.

Read more poetry. Poets have special insights, a unique way of seeing the world and I need to take advantage of their wisdom. I have my favorites that I return to from time to time, but this year I will make more of an effort to branch out, to get to know new poets and see what they have to teach me.

Be a better friend. I'm really not a good friend, too selfish, I think, but this year I am going to try my hardest to do better for all the people that I love. We all need a friend, but, as our mothers always told us, to have a friend you must first be a friend. Maybe it's not too late for me to put into practice the wisdom of my mother's words.

Let us hope that 2013 will finally be the year when we put all of our good intentions into practice!



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