Perhaps the idea of counting in repetitive cycles isn’t so much to have a sense of order as it is to create opportunities for ourselves to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch – if things didn’t work out today, perhaps they will tomorrow, or next week, or the most popular option of all, next year. The idea of a do-over is immensely gratifying.

As a kid, I used to spend most of December coming up with resolutions for the New Year. The making of resolutions reached its heights during my teens. In my high school years, the item which figured on the list year after year was “Study for at least 15 hours a day on week ends”. I especially liked putting in the “at least” bit – a deft move, which I felt left the field wide open for days on which I might do more than 15 hours of studying. The “week end” specification is another DoZ characteristic – for week days, I obviously accounted for time spent at school, going to and returning from school, meal times and so on.

By the time I started college, studying mattered far less. Or at any rate any activity that involved Pachaiyappa’s College didn’t matter enough to warrant a New Year resolution. Others, such as ‘read Thomas Hardy’, started to replace the old promises to study for 15-hours a day. This particular resolution was as futile as ‘I will really like Analytical Geometry this year!’ (from circa 1999 aka the prepping-for-CAT year),‘Try to “get” Operations Research’ and ‘I will not let M. Peru [1] get to me’ (from circa 2000-01 aka the MBA years).

When making resolutions, I’ve tried everything – from being broad and rather vague (“be good” from when I was the 6th or 7th standard) to being ultra specific (“no more than 1hr and 15 minutes of TV per day on a week day” from around the same period). From the modest (“go to the gym twice a week”) to the dizzyingly ambitious (“don’t swear”). There are pros and cons to each method. In fine tuning the degree of specificity or the toughness of keeping a resolution, what I was really trying to do was to find a way to trick myself into keeping a promise, without being in any way conscious about it. Consciously doing or avoiding something reeked of “duty”, a dreaded option which was to be avoided at all costs. I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of martyrdom.

Some years, I’d do evaluations in addition to resolutions. I’d start out by listing what I was happy with from the last year. At some point this started to suggest pride. Perhaps due to spending several years in a Catholic school, every time I feel proud of something, a nun immediately materializes in my head, and chants “Pride goes before a fall”, while doing a little jig. So I’d stop, and start listing things I wasn’t proud of. This list was almost always longer than the first. Then I’d feel too bad, and try to balance things out a bit, till the dancing nun came back.

One year, I remember, a friend told me that using the negative was a bad thing – saying ‘not’ or ‘no’ or ‘don’t’ etc. brought nothing but ill luck. That year, all my resolutions were worded in positive terms – avoid watching TV, shun all telephone conversations exceeding 15 minutes on a day before an exam, and so on.

I can’t remember how long I managed to keep any of the million resolutions I’ve made over the years. I only have the vague but certain knowledge that none survived. Any resolutions for 2007? You betcha –

– avoid Law & Order and CSI and anything involving the solving of a crime in one hour or less

– read at least one never-before-tried author every month

– go to the gym more often (but not be such a sap as to turn up there on the first day!)

Am trying to keep things simple this year, nothing too specific or patently unachievable. Perhaps this year will be the one.

[1] M. Peru – the econ prof from hell, as anyone from BIM will tell you.


5 comments so far

  1. […] மேலும் வாசிக்க…..   […]

  2. Anirudh on

    Enjoyable reading.

  3. Anirudh on

    This made for enjoyable reading.

  4. Anirudh on

    I pressed ‘Enter’ by mistake the first time, then clicked on ‘Stop’, by which time it was (obviously) too late. Anyway, forgive me for commenting thrice on my very first visit.

  5. Adi on

    Oh, c’mon. Peru wasn’t half as bad as you are making him out to be. 🙂
    – Adi

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