Those New Year resolutions and I

By Anne Abayasekara

If you, like me, are the sort of person who makes New Year resolutions, I trust that unlike myself, you actually carry out even some of them.

Take the time I last went to my bank. When the clerk at the counter saw this old lady with a walking stick approaching, his eyebrows shot up and he immediately said, “You should open a joint account with someone,” and pushed the necessary application forms into my hand.

This was quite some time ago and I haven’t done anything about it as yet, maybe because I felt somewhat indignant at his implied inference that I might pop off any moment.

So, 2010 seems to be an appropriate time to renew this particular resolution and I have already spoken to my daughter about it.

I should, however, first resolve not to be the procrastinator I have been for most of my nearly 85 years (the only thing I wasn’t tardy about, was in getting married as quickly as I could to the peach of a man who asked me to be his wife). As I type this on the computer which is in my study, I wince each time I turn round and see the mess behind me – piles of files everywhere, most of them containing hundreds of newspaper cuttings, besides shelves full of undusted books, with dust- gathering photographs and ornaments sitting atop.

Spilling over from boxes on the floor are greeting cards from my family – birthday cards, anniversary cards, Christmas cards, “Thinking of you” cards, which I can’t throw away and which keep increasing.
I read some sound advice about getting rid of anything that wasn’t “useful, beautiful or joyful”.

That’s the trouble. I don’t know when some of those newspaper cuttings might come in useful re. some topic on which I’m writing and all those boxfuls of cards ARE both beautiful and joyful.

That’s what brings to naught an annual resolution to clear the mess and have a study into which I can unashamedly permit my friends to enter. Maybe I should try again this time and perhaps close my eyes and put the lot into a garbage bag and out on the road – but I shall require a will of steel to accomplish this.

The season of goodwill presents a few problems too. Generally speaking, I have no difficulty about exuding sincere goodwill to one and all. What I need to do is to make a resolution NOT to react angrily (in thought if not in words), when someone says or does something tactless or thoughtless.

As for instance, when the ‘phone rings while I’m trying to write an article and the person at the other end says, “Who is speaking?” in an impolite tone. I reply, with some asperity, “Who do want to speak to? It’s YOU who called my number”.

Or, when an old school friend meets me after a lapse of 40 years and exclaims, “My goodness! I wouldn’t have known you – you have changed so much!” (Implying that the change has not been for the better). I suppress my inclination to make an unfriendly retort, but my thoughts are not nice. This is the sort of thing I need to eliminate.

One good resolution I have definitely made is to give in to my better instincts. You will understand what I mean when I tell you that a salesman rang my doorbell one day at 2.30 in the afternoon, rudely awaking me from my nap. When I saw the perspiration on his face, I fleetingly thought he could do with a cool drink, but instead I said I didn’t want any of his wares and went back to bed. I’ve regretted it ever since.

The next salesman who comes to my door will receive a kinder reception.Similarly, there was a man calling out “Lady!” at a front window. He said he’d been ill and was out of work and he needed some monetary assistance to buy his son’s school books. I didn’t believe him and the amount I gave him was less generous than my better nature prompted. I’ve resolved that in 2010 I shall respond to an insight my late husband once put into words:

“These chaps may be spinning yarns, but even so, they come because they have a real need and we should surely try to help them.” So that will be a resolution which I shall try my best to keep.

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