I’ve reached a stage in life where instead of needing to swear off some ill or excess habit, I can only fondly wish I were capable of performing those offenses and transgressions. On a good day I can count on beginning something ill, but whether I’d get to the end of it is another matter. It’s a bit like watching a movie. I see the start and then wake up when the music rises for the credits. Oh sure, I may surface for a moment of consciousness during a noisome scene with a comet ripping Mom Earth to shreds, but I’m sure to before long submerge again. It might take a week for me to see an entire movie, and then I need to be quite dedicated, taking notes so I know where I dropped off on snooze four. It takes at least five or six tries to see a movie all the way through, so I claim more than the common utility for movies in my DVD collection. Mine have gotten a lot of use simply trying to see them the first time in entirety.

In this regard, the older and younger members of society are alike. The very young can happily watch the same thing over and over, while the elder version watches with a vague feeling of something looking strangely familiar, but no matter. A good movie to doze to can be semi-watched uncounted times and its effect will still be fresh and useful as the very first viewing.

When younger, I used to take a spunky pleasure in New Year resolutions that were no-fail. Seeing as I hated to get up in the morning, it was duck soup (we should wonder where such an expression came from, since I’ll bet few among us have any experience with Mallard broth) to swear off breakfast. To further give up something you’re not doing is a sure success, though as ethically dishonest as a free stay at a resort if you buy a trip package. I proudly gave up dawn skinny-dips in Lake Superior and serial killing (though there are a few taking breath today who escaped my wrath because I couldn’t think of a sufficiently slow and painful way to end them), along with sky diving and bungee jumping, either of which you could not pay me enough to do in the first place, not without me tearing your lower lip off at the suggestion. So there it is, along with the reminder that I once resolved to stop tearing off the lower lips of those gullible enough to test me. It was remarkable how long ago my fellow Scouts remembered a single brief incident of a vice grip attached firmly to a lower lip. Well, I had warned him.

Among the hardest resolutions to keep are those about losing weight and/or overeating. I don’t know about you, but for me I was rarely able to know that a third piece of pecan pie was too much until too late. I’d have weighed much more had it not been for an incessant and relentless twitchiness that had my bed looking like a scene from Verdun, lacking only dead bodies as proof of some terrible conflict raging all the night. Up until age twelve or so, I flung out of bed to hit wall, floor, or both at least once a night. My parents got quite used to the sound of these nocturnal crashes and were not alarmed, knowing I’d get up and nine times out of ten fling myself in the right direction to hit the mattress. A second fall would wake me to safely crawl abed. With as much exercise as I was getting all night, it’s no wonder I stayed skinny.

There are (I’m drifted off course here) two sides to fitness and weight control through activity. There is the camp that holds a person needs to go somewhere to do this with others in a setting that stinks of sneakers and sweat. There is another camp saying that if your life isn’t active enough to keep you fairly fit, it’s your own damn fault. Here on the shore, I fetch my quota of firewood every day and try to take a hike along my road. When visiting the Twin Ports, I find I’m most often alone in using the stairs in a hotel or medical building. In any case, I find that exercise in places that do not smell like gyms has more appeal, but this is, to be sure, a matter of personal taste.

This year I performed a pre-New Year vow. I decided to be more agreeable. Those knowing me may sense this could be my end, but I’m determined to give it as long a run as I can before the serial killer urges build too strongly. In a perverse (which itself may explain why I’m doing it) way, I’m rather enjoying being nice. The other day someone explained an idiotic scheme to me for my approval. Instead of attempting to boil their brain in vinegar, I smiled my beatific best and told them their idea was one of the most inspiring I’d heard in many a while. If one leaves out what manner of inspiration is referred to, this method has the happy result of sending others away happy. The important thing there is that they go away, and in most cases this is accomplished more quickly with your unlimited agreement, possibly nudged a bit with the suggestion they tell others.

Being agreeable can be such a delight. A week past, someone sought to correct me on the subject of religious tolerance. With eager earnestness they urged on me the thought that all beliefs have troublesome fundamentalists, and that therefore fundamentalism is the problem. I put my hand warmly atop theirs to thank them for this helpful insight. It was heartwarming to view their satisfaction at wining me over. But good things go only so far, as can I. I found it most highly agreeable to mince their argument. Shall I begin the New Year by telling you next time?