Let me take this opportunity to wish my fellow Antiguans a healthy, happy and productive New Year. May God’s choicest blessings be yours, today and always.
Now, at the beginning of every year, quite a number of folks make plans to improve themselves in some way; perhaps with a resolve to eat less red meat or quit cigarettes or fast foods. Some vow to eliminate soda from their diet while others pledge to go to the gym or to church. Still others become involved in volunteering or to take up a meaningful hobby and so on, and so forth.
Man’s capacity and desire for self-improvement is significant and ongoing. Of course, why we always have to wait until the beginning of a New Year is beyond me. Why not just get up at any point in time of a given year and simply do what we feel we need to do? What is the magical significance of the first day of the year? Why is a new year so psychologically important when it is just another day on the calendar? I suspect that those persons who say “Wait ‘til next year” are procrastinators, much like yours truly, who are looking for an excuse to delay the implementation of their self-improvement plans.
Of course, once the first of the year comes around, so too do the excuses.
“De water dong a Fort too damn cowl a marnin time.” “Dah gym deh too expensive.” “Me go wait til next week.” “Me order wan nice pair ah runnin’ shoes but dem nuh come yet.” “Look, me cyarn tap drink de rum jus lacka dat yuh know. Me haffoo wean meself off de bockle slowly.” “Look, me warn foo start go a chuch yuh know, but too muchy hypocrite in dey. Plus, me nuh feel me cyan geeway foome hard earn money to no preacher man inna Cadillac. A drunk you drunk inna yuh @#$%? Me work too hard. Me prefer foo watch Creflo Dollar and Jimmy Swaggert pon TV.”
“Doc, me know dat me cholesterol high and me haffoo tap nyam all dem fry food. But when yuh hear Mavis cook de fry dumpling and de fry fungy, e bang well. If yuh t’ink me lie arkse Eddie Mello.”
“Pastor Harris, me know dat me mek wan new year’s resolution for start go ah chuch, but every time de breeze come dong de hill an blow inna de winda, me drop sleep. Me neva hear yuh whole sermon. De debil bad! An me nar lie foo tell you dat ebrey time Sista Sheila come inna church wid she nice hat and she nice dress an ting … me ha foo rebuke de debil.”
“Look, me cut dong pon de gambling nuh. Memba when me does inna de casino five nights a week? Now, since de new year me down to two nights per week.”
“Doctor Crishtian, me tun 50 dis year and me promise foo come in for de prostate exam, but me a tell you de trute, de thought of you sticking that thing up there is not appealing. Me nuh know how Pretty Boy Floyd and dem cyan do dem sudden dey. Ah mean, me know yuh no name Dr Beckles who try foo stick he injection inna de Lord Canary, but still … maybe next year, me will summon de courage.”
“Look, me promise me wife dat for de new year me go tap run roun’ wid all dem likle dutty gyal from de village, but it hard! Wha mek Seckie and Shuga mus’ wear dem tight, tight shorts? When Precious put on she tight-up skirt, Lawd, me a warn you, she mek me blood pressure rise up! Look, me tap use de Viagra nuh. Me ah use Cialis nowadays. De ongliest t’ing is dat dem say dat if t’ings a go good dong dey for more than four hours me mus’ see wan doctor. But me nar badda wid dem. Me go see Alice, me go see Sonia, me go see Valarie, me go see Eileen. Me go see arl a dem!”
Needless to say, within a few months after the start of the new year, the remnants of the unfulfilled resolutions become evident. Unused treadmills can be seen lying about in many backyards. The expensive running shoes can be found deep in a closet, the tags still affixed. The gym membership lapses, as does the membership in the yoga classes and the Optimist Club. By the time the summer, yard sales come around, bargain hunter can find barely-used juicing machines, George Foreman grills, body-toning weights, unopened exercise DVDs, and so on and so forth.
Of course, this is not an indictment of those who fail to live up to their own new year’s resolutions. As said before, I have made many over the years and failed to keep them so this is no self-righteous homily. Indeed, the Apostle Paul sums up the difficulty of keeping resolutions quite nicely in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do” (New International Version). Personally, I still try, but I will not subject myself to an endless cycle of self-flagellation and guilt, because I quit lifting weights or I stopped the veggie juicing because I love sodas.
I am 53 years old and with that comes a certain amount of self-acceptance. I will never look like my brother-in-law, Steve Williams, a former Mr Antigua. I am who I am and the best that I can do now is to encourage the young to be disciplined persons. To set goals and stick to those goals. To exercise self-control. To eschew instant gratification. And not squander the vigour and vitality and idealism and enthusiasm of their youth. And by the way, no one should resolve to go on a diet or go the gym simply because a boyfriend or a spouse says they should. Neither should they do it because of peer pressure or wanting “keep up with the Joneses.” Our decision to make a change in our lives should be for our own self-satisfaction and our own self-esteem.
Having said that, we cannot let our leaders make resolutions and promises and not keep them. Baldwin and the UPP were voted out of office earlier this year because the people felt that they had not delivered.
Meanwhile, it’s been 293 days since the ABLP was elected on the strength of their pledge to build 500 houses in 500 days. The true believers have been searching east, west, north and south trying to find the houses with not much success. To them, I say, “Oh ye of little faith!” Maybe the houses are being built on Sandy Island and then they will be transported by barge to the mainland for the grand unveiling. Maybe they are being built in Bat’s Cave. Then again, maybe they are virtual houses. After all, if you can have virtual sex and virtual relationships, why not virtual houses?
Then again, maybe they are building dolly houses. Or maybe they are ginger bread houses. Or even bird houses. Heck, even Mickey Mouse houses – 500 of them. I mean, they never specified what kind of houses they were going to build. And we never bothered to read the fine print. So even if they build matchbox houses or jumby crab houses, they will, in fact have kept their promise.
Clearly, making promises and resolutions are tough and, even as we are attempting to improve the quality of our lives in some major way, there are forces that somehow seem to impede our resolve to be better persons; to achieve some measure of moral, spiritual or personal growth.
The calypsonian tells the story of a disgruntled man who told his girlfriend to “Take her bundle and go/Please don’t come back no more …” Apparently, his new year’s resolution was to get rid of this philandering woman and make a fresh start. Now this lady was quite blessed, if you know what I mean, in the, er, ‘background’ department (think, Kim Kardashian times two). Anyway, she packed all her belongings and began to head for the door. That’s when some of her stuff fell to the floor and she bent over to pick them up. Now who tell her do dat? The disgruntled man took one look at the ‘background’ then exclaimed, “Honey, wait, wait! You don’t have to go; you can stay as long as you want. Is joke ah making!”
So much for that New Year’s resolution.