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28
Dec

The Shelf Life of New Year’s Resolutions

The topic of New Year’s resolutions has come up a couple of times lately, understandably since New Year’s is in 4 days.  In one of my A.A. meetings it came up, and my friend Hugh said something along the lines of, “A resolution for a whole year!?  I have to make a resolution every day.”

And on the last Friday Five (a set of 5 questions) sent to the Dead Runners’ Society listserv, the poster, Douglas Barry in Ireland, asked if anyone makes New Year’s resolutions, and if so, what?  Most of the respondents pretty much denigrated the notion of resolutions, in that they tend to dissipate much sooner than the year comes to an end.

I was speaking to friends David and John yesterday about this, and I told them I was going to post about the shelf life of New Year’s resolutions.  So I queried the Dead Runners’ Society list, and got responses so far from Charles, Cher, Lynn, JimP, and Martha.  All noted that it’s kinda hard to get any space in the gym right after New Year’s, since many have resoluted (resolved, I mean) to begin an exercise program or to be more faithful to their current exercise program.  So the gyms are full of new people.  (I’ll have to test that at my gym, Gainesville Health and Fitness Center,

Gainesville Health and Fitness Center

Gainesville Health and Fitness Center

on Friday or Saturday (January 2nd & 3rd).

But the new people, who made New Year’s resolutions to exercise, seem to drift away, and by spring it’s a lot easier to get space in the gym.

I’ll have to do an observation about whether or not the population of runners or cyclists seems up on Friday and Saturday as well — I plan a run each day.

I think it’s intuitively obvious that New Year’s resolutions are well-intended but don’t by any means end up observed 100%, all year.

But I’m interested enough to observe the numbers, continue to ask my Dead Runners Society friends about their experiences, and do a little research into the topic.  Perhaps the research will simply come my way in our local newspaper, on Slate.com, or on Buzzflash.com.  Surely the media will cover the phenomenon, as it does every year.

I wonder if the picture below was taken right around the new year?  As for me, I didn’t see greater numbers of runners in my neighborhood when I ran on New Year’s Day, January 2, and January 3 (today).  I did go to the gym yesterday (January 2), though, and at just a random observation it seemed to numbers were up.

A Crowd of Gainesville Health and Fitness Members

A Crowd of Gainesville Health and Fitness Members

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14
Dec

Cheryl Strayed a Household Name

And it’s about time, too.  Strayed’s memoir, Wild, is now a movie set to go into wide release and starring Reese Witherspoon, whose presence should guarantee  an audience.  (I saw it yesterday, and it’s an excellent rendering of the book.  Reese Witherspoon is excellent, and Laura Dern, who plays Cheryl’s mother Bobby, is a lock to get an Oscar nomination — she just radiates grace.)

The Internet meme this week was about the contrast between John Kracauer’s Into the Wild and Strayed’s Wild: From Lost To Found On the Pacific Crest Trail, as if they were actually comparable.  In my brain Christoper McCandless of Into the Wild is batshit crazy, not to mention suicidal, whereas Strayed is pretty thoroughly mis-guided but not insane..  Yes, both go into the wild without adequate preparation, but their reasons for doing so are dissimilar — McCandless is unhinged and doesn’t have any idea where he’s going, while Strayed just wants to hike the Pacific Crest trail.

I’m a huge Cheryl Strayed fan — after reading Wild, I read Torch.  As an online reader of The Rumpus (a magazine of literature, interviews, cartoons, etc.), I became part of the Dear Sugar “cult”;  Sugar was the advice columnist at The Rumpus for years, and when her tenure was coming to an end, Sugar was “outed” as being Cheryl Strayed.

Tiny Beautiful Things Cover

Tiny Beautiful Things Cover

There’s a collection of Dear Sugar The Rumpus pieces (seems a little dismissive and inaccurate to call them “columns,” as they’re pretty substantial) titled Tiny Beautiful Things, and it’s on my bedstand, where I’m re-reading it just because it’s so damned good.  Strayed often replies to those writing in for advice by telling interesting stories from her own life, which she maneuvers into answers to the life and love questions asked.

Anyway, Strayed is soon to be a household word, and it’s a good thing, too.  In fact, I was listening to NPR the other day, and they were interviewing her and Steve Almond, who’s a Rumpus editor.  They said there is now going to be “Dear Sugar Radio.”