I rarely go in on a bunch of New Year’s resolutions. After all, nobody knows me better than I know myself, and if there’s one thing I know about Adam Armour, it’s that he doesn’t follow through on his grand end/beginning-of-the-year promises.
Still, if I’m being honest with myself, and I should because, as we’ve already established, I would know when I’m not, there is room for improvement in my life. And although I know good and well my vows to eat less, write more and train myself in some new skill I can never competently do – carpentry or juggling or spelling the word “competently” correctly the first time – won’t amount to much of anything, I’m still naïve enough to make a few empty promises as the old year rolls into the new.
For 2020, I vowed to be more optimistic. It didn’t work out.
Honestly, even if last year hadn’t turned out to be a burning dumpster sitting in the middle of a flaming tire yard which itself was located in the bottommost circle of Hell – the one even Satan himself instructs Google Maps to bypass when traveling across the barren wasteland of the damned – I would have struggled to keep an upbeat attitude.
The thing is, optimistic isn’t my default setting. My wife used to jokingly (or maybe not) refer to me as the “fun ruiner.” Or was that “dream killer?” One or the other. Basically, she was the one in our relationship to suggest potentially enjoyable new things for us to do as a couple – sometimes long-range, like starting a business, other times minor, like trying a new place to eat – and I’d always be the one to lay out all the reasons I thought these ideas wouldn’t work, would cause some cataclysm within our lives, or possibly lead to a disappointing meal.
Sounds like fun, right? Who wouldn’t want to hang around with me?
I recognize how destructive such a pessimistic attitude can be … how draining it can be even to the most supportive partner. But like an addict, I often feel powerless to stop it. My instinctual reaction to every suggestion is a scrunched face and a headshake. Before I can even think to myself, “Hey, Adam, maybe you should either offer some verbal support to your wife/child/friend or just keep your dumb mouth shut,” a geyser of negativity spews forth, covering everything within earshot with a goopy coating of whyevenbotherism. Believe me, that stuff stains. I no longer want to be the person ruining people’s emotional furniture.
So, this year, same as the last, I resolve to be more optimistic. I vow to not meet every new idea or challenge with a can’t-do attitude, and to stop seeing every single failing in my life as a validation that I shouldn’t have tried in the first place. Although I will never truly shake off the genetic bonds of cynicism, I commit to trying to cushion such an outlook with a layer of hopefulness … possibly delusion. Whichever works best.
Not that I have any faith I’ll pull it off.
Dang it, already off to a poor start.