Text © Robert Barry Francos
Images from the Internet
Written on the last day of 2009:
When I was much younger and people would ask me for my New Year’s resolutions, invariably I would have two standardized answers to pick from year to year. The first was “I will not flagellate any frogs,” and the second “I will not learn French.”
Generally, resolutions are inherently bad to one’s psyche: the goal to be attempted / attained is a self-imagined “fault” usually having to do with self-image (diet, gym), or health (smoking, gym).
As the saying goes, “Resolutions are meant to be broken.” Most people who make these promises to themselves fail within January, and give up shortly thereafter. I once made up a resolution not to make any resolutions, but that failed in the promise itself.
The reason I picked the ridiculous “frog” and “French” pair is because they were both something that I had no interest in doing. Sort of like someone being lactose intolerant and giving up cheese for Lent. Truly, I have no desire to put a whip to an amphibian, nor a leaning to the Francophone (oh, Bonjour Mme. Falour).
While I can truthfully say that I have kept both these non-sequitur resolutions, as you can see, some French has crept into my life, more through osmosis than seeking. Nearly all the French I know is either a form of salutation, food (e.g., pom frittes), direction (e.g., Qwest), or exclamation (e.g., Tout allures! Merde!).
This year, I will choose no resolutions. Yes, there are plenty of things I want to do this year, including getting governmental permission to work, to find that job (as Paul Simon may have said, “For Employment, Whenever I May Find Her”), to finish cataloging my photos (actually a reasonable possibility, after working on them for a few years), to perpetuate this blog and hopefully keep it interesting, and to scan my old 1970s-‘80s negatives into publishable positives (possibly in a book).
These are all goals that I would like to accomplish. This year? Next? I will not make a schedule to others or myself. They will get done, but isn’t life enough pressure without making resolutions to add on to it? My partner has often said to me that things take twice as long as one thinks they will. That’s sound advice. Without the pressure of self-enforced time constraints, they organically still manage to get done. There is another expression in Yiddish that translates to “Make a plan, God laughs.” Unlike Mel Brooks’ song “Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst” [see below], there is a positive aspect to that Yiddish expression which echoes my partner: things happen in their won time. I’m not saying sit around procrastinating on yer ass and wait, I’m positing to give it a realistic time frame, which may take longer than you plan.
When I worked at a high pressure position for a Fortune 500 company a few years back, I was considered the Gold Standard of speed at the job (no idle boast: when new software promising to be faster was tested, they worked “against” me on the old software; if the new one was faster than me, it was a positive for the company). And yet, it often came to pass where a team’s needs exceed my capabilities thanks to bad planning of a team to whom I was assigned. Different team members would ask for something to be completed at the same time. I’m fine with prioritizing, but sometimes their needs clashed, and rather than arguing with them, I usually let the members argue it out among themselves, while I worked on whatever got to me first. When asked why something was not done in an unrealistic time expectation, my response was a realistic “Two hands, one keyboard.”
Occasionally, I find I need to say that to myself, as well. There are just more things I want to do than can be done expediently. After all, in 2009, I packed up all my stuff (and much of my partner’s) in Brooklyn, rented a 26’ truck and drove it to central Canada (2300 miles), had the new house fixed up so we could unpack, set up everything where it goes…and here we are at a new year.
There’s still a lot to do on my list, but I resolve not to worry about it, just to do it.