I don’t know about you, but New Year’s resolutions have never worked for me. I’m a tad resistant to being told what to do, even when I’m doing the telling. Just making lists of things to do today will more often throw the day off, except when Mother Necessity is standing by with the threat of a whipping. 

Normally people with this particular human attribute are tossed into the “hopeless” category, but I was rescued from accepting that designation by something I read maybe 10 or 15 years ago. It said “What makes me think I know more today about what I should do than I will know tomorrow?” It helped me immensely. Try it on if you also suffer from this malady.

I have discovered, however, that I get some help from making propositions to myself. The trick is this: I say to myself “I think my life would be better if I could just learn to (fill in the blank.)” Then I write it down on an attractive little piece of paper and tape it to the cupboard door where I go to get my cereal bowl and dinner plate, my coffee cup and water glass. That way it doesn’t get lost, and as the months pass, I can see whether my proposition had any merit as well as remember it.

The discovery was an accident, of course, or grace. Somewhere along in 2019 it was revealed to me that I have a bad habit of hissing when I am most aggrieved. (Some of you who’ve been reading this column over the years probably picked that up before I did.) So the day the calendar turned to 2020, I wrote “speak without hissing” on a small strip of taupe-colored stationery and taped it to the cupboard door. Then the pandemic hit, and I was relieved of many of the petty injuries I imagine by the threat of real ones. It’s also harder to hiss behind a mask. I can’t say my hissing days are over, but it seems I have a greater range of responses now, including yelling. I think my life has improved, but you might want to ask the cats if things are really better.

That proposition was followed in 2021 by the simple suggestion “ask for help.” Now, had I learned to ask for help sooner, I might have done less hissing over the years, but I’m a backwards learner. I start from the top-most problems and work down to the source. (I think I’m not alone in this.) Last year’s proposition was the simple word “follow,” which is the real reason that resolutions and lists don’t work for me: they stand in the way of following that sometimes-hard-to-hear voice. This year there are three words: trust the process. “Trust” is the key word there.

And then there’s the poem I wrote in 2010 as 2009 slipped behind us. The proposition was bigger than the ones on the dish cupboard door, and it is still informing me from its frame on the wall above where I eat. Although it was written in the form of a resolution, it has turned into a proposition for the decades: wouldn’t it be good to learn to fear not? See what you think.

Sharecropping, 2010

This is going to be the year
I take my life back
from fear: of crippling
inadequacy, of my own thoughts
and other’s reactions.
It is the year

I’m going to learn to fear
not, going to decide
once and for all to say
Should I be afraid? No.
Am I afraid? Yes. What
can I do to reduce my fear,
what things are within my power
to lessen the likelihood
of whatever catastrophe
I think I see lurking
just over the horizon?

And let the rest go.

Let it flow with the forces
already at work, join
in the mix of good and evil
ever swirling all around us, sure
that Good will win
in the End

and that I will have
done my share.

Trudy Wischemann is an inveterate preacher who sermonizes from her desk in Lindsay. You can send her your propositions for 2023 c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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