So here we are contemplating the start of a new year, the time for making resolutions, and I’m in firm agreement with the unidentified, cheeky sage who once mused, “I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I didn’t become a better person.”
Getting off the dime is easier said than done, as most of us learn in the struggle to meet goals we set when life provides us an opportunity to fill a new set of blank pages.
Plenty has been said on the subject of looking ahead by those who have offered advice ranging from the inspirational to the platitudinous.
The folksy and oft-quoted columnist for the Kansas City Star, William E. Vaughan, died decades before Covid gave us mixed feelings about how to view year’s end, but he seemed to nail it anyway:
“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”
These days, many of us have few regrets over kicking the old year out, but with all due respect to Vaughan, I’d say that makes us optimists.
As for getting off the dime, financial magnate J. P. Morgan, who made a fortune in railroads, put a philosophical spin on travel with this advice: “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.”
So with 2022 in mind, here are some offerings by others as they shared year-end thoughts:
– It is never too late to be what you might have been. — Novelist George Eliot
– If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. — poet Maya Angelou
– Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. – Persian poet Rumi
– It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. – Actor Hugh Laurie
– The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you’re the pilot. —Corporate executive Michael Altshuler
– Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin. –- Mother Teresa
Comedian Joey Adams provided a lighter, but realistically comforting take: “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!”
And Mark Twain puckishly observed: “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them, as usual.”
The late inspirational author H. Jackson Brown Jr., best known for his New York Times best-seller Life’s Little Instruction Book, offered this formula, as good as any to contemplate as a new year dawns: “Life is short… forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”
Gerry Goldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a retired Providence Journal editor and columnist.