(HOST) This year, commentator Jay Parini resolves to actually keep his New Year’s resolutions.
(PARINI) I’m terrible with New Years resolutions, although I make them compulsively. In truth, my resolutions are not especially original. I read somewhere that the main thing people resolve to do is lose weight. Well, I resolve, I hearby swear, that I shall lose the proverbial ten pounds in 2009. I have sworn this every year for the past twenty years. But this is the year I will actually DO it.
How will I do this miraculous thing? I have read all the diet books, and I know that it’s just chemistry. You put in X number of calories, and you must burn them off – or store them in ripples around your waist, or wherever. If you exercise a lot, that helps, which is why most people also resolve to exercise more in the coming year.
In 2006 I spent the year in London with my wife and youngest son, and we didn’t have a car, as you would be crazy to own a car in London. That meant I had to walk everywhere, and did so: anywhere from an hour to three hours a day. I felt like ship at sea, moving slowly through the urban waters, uphill and down, into dark alleys, on broad boulevards, around endless crescents and squares. The miracle came when, after three months, I happened to weigh myself. The New Year was approaching. I was about to resolve, as ever, to lose ten pounds, and I discovered – to my eternal astonishment – I had lost seventeen pounds already. No dieting, no nothing.
I kept off those pounds until I returned to Vermont, whereupon I put the key in the ignition, and drove to work. The seventeen pounds – as magically as they had disappeared – reappeared.
This leads to my second resolution. I am going to walk a great deal. I don’t care what they say, I’ll head out from the house every day and disappear into the countryside for an hour or two. Even in the depths of winter, over ice and snow, even at night if I must. Whatever it takes, I resolve to lose myself in the nearby wilderness for ninety minutes every day, uphill and down, over the river and through the woods.
I’ve read, in fact, that most people resolve to lose weight and exercise more. If this is true, I’m just one of the mob. So be it. I’ve also read that most people resolve to drink less.
That means drink less booze, I suppose. I’ve actually begun to do this by dumping water into my wine in restaurants. The practice is horrifying to serious wine lovers; but it’s apparently what the ancient Greeks did. Their wine was apparently awful, so they had to water it down. I do it for other reasons, connected to Resolution Number One. Let’s hope that in 2009 my friends will applaud a slimmer, fitter, more sober version of Jay Parini – and one who followed through on his New Years resolutions – at last.