We’re quickly approaching Resolution Day. You know. New Year’s. Or for the clever among us, the day after New Year’s, so we can still have fun on the First.
Don’t do it! Too often resolutions grow from regret. And really, is it that bad, or are you so down on yourself out of habit that you make Everests out of every Bunker Hill, which, having seen it, is hard to distinguish from a mole?
This is why I appreciate poet Dorianne Laux’s “Bible.” The one that has a Book of Antilamentations as opposed to a Book of Lamentations. Isn’t the newspaper enough, after all? Question comma rhetorical!
Watch what happens when Laux takes a deep breath and accepts life, regrets and all:
by Dorianne Laux
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don’t bother remembering
any of it. Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
You might want to hire Laux as your therapist after reading this. You’ll go from getting down on yourself to forgiving your own foibles to people watching. Then, once you get your fill of their foibles, you’ll forgive them, too.
Finally, without knowing it or declaring it, you’ll have achieved a resolution without even trying: namely, I will cut people more slack than I did last year. Myself included.
For inspiration, try a litany of your own antilamentations: What are some things you no longer regret. Because life is too short, people!
Trust me. Writing it will feel good, so Happy Regret-Free New Year’s in advance. And stop reading the front page of newspapers!