January 1: Resolved.
I want to talk about the word “resolution”. January 1st holds the fleeting purity and possibility of a blank notebook. It is a beginning. So we make a resolution, a promise to ourselves, and we are resolved to follow through in the coming year.
But in literature, the resolution comes at the end of a story and has a fancier French term: “dénouement” (pronounced day-new-ma). The conflict that drives the plot is resolved during the dénouement.
So, why talk about the end of things at the beginning? I decided it makes sense to think of New Year’s resolutions as putting an end to a conflict in my life, big or small. I’m tired of digging through the junk drawer every time I need the scissors. So I’m making a resolution to clean the junk drawer. Digging through that drawer (often with one hand while I juggle a small child or a steaming bag of microwave vegetables) is an unnecessary cause of agitation in my life. But it has a simple solution. I just need to be resolved to follow through.
Tired of tripping over that throw rug that never stays put? Get rid of it. Tired of feeling bad because you said you’d keep in touch with a friend but life happened? Call her. Tired of staring at those shoeboxes full of photos? Organize them into albums. It is surprising how many tiny loose ends work against our peace. This year, make a list. An incredibly do-able list. Check them off and create a little boost for yourself. Every bit counts.
Now, major conflicts of course are not so easily eliminated. They do drive the plot, after all. But this way of thinking can be useful with the big ones, too. For me, this year I am trying to resolve a feud with myself over whether or not I have it in me to be a writer. A reader? Give me all the books. Comment on other people’s writing? Hold my beer. But creating pieces of my own, with any regularity, is something I’ve always wanted to do but wasn’t sure I ever could. Well, I’m tired of wondering. And here I am.