There are moments in everyone’s life when they get the urge or opportunity to begin anew – a clean slate….
For a dieter, it’s any given Monday or the night after all the cookies and ice cream has been purged from the house.
For a smoker who wants to kick the habit, it’s the moment they stub out the last cigarette in the pack.
For a new mother, it’s giving birth to her first-born child…. right before the realization hits her that there is no possible way to avoid screwing the kid up.
For a writer, it’s a blank page – or in my case, a brand new year for my blog.
The list of clean slate hopefuls and their situations vary wildly, but they all hold one thing in common – they’re all hoping to change something old, and create something new. And what better moment to do that than when presented with a clean slate? Our clean slate offers the inspiration and momentum to leave behind our old way of life, ditch our bad habit, or achieve a new goal.
That is why we usually fall hook, line, and sinker for the ultimate in clean slates, the one day of the year when everyone gets a big, fat, do-over – New Year’s Day. It’s a magical day when we give ourselves absolution for all the times we sat on our asses instead of going to the gym, all the broccoli we passed over in order to save room for the brownie sundaes, and all the debt we incurred because it’s more tempting to go on a weekend bender to Vegas than to stay in and pat yourself on the back for being frugal.
So we make a list of all our resolutions, and hang it on our bathroom mirrors, near our refrigerators, or any other location in our house that’s usually designed for self-flagellation. And when we see our list, it comforts us and swears that regardless of years passed, this year will be different.
This year we will shut off the TV and start reading more books – beginning with the classics we hated in school.
This year we will join a gym and workout everyday. Everyday!!
This year we will not eat anything made by Hostess, Entenmann’s, Drake’s, or Frito-Lay.
This year we will lose forty pounds (should be a piece of cake after resolutions one and two).
This year we will find inner peace through daily meditation (note to self – google the Dalai Lama).
This year we will stop smoking like we own stock in Philip Morris.
This year we will stop drinking like we don’t own a liver.
This year we will keep our house clean (not just for company).
This year we will give Sally Struthers’ charity the 70 cents a day its been begging for since the early 90’s (it’s the cost of a cup of coffee, for chrissakes!)
This year we will….
And for the first few days of the New Year, we feel a surge of empowerment every time we lay eyes on our (strategically placed) list and feel secure in our belief that we will have NO problem sticking to our lofty goals. There is a smile on our face, a spring in our step, and a virtual silver lining encircling our head. We are completely committed to our sparkly clean slate, and no amount of temptation could lure us back into our torrid love affairs with Ben & Jerry, Jose Cuervo, and the Marlboro man.
But slowly, as the month wears on, our clean slate gets smudged…. sullied…. and eventually shat upon. And by the end of January we find ourselves lying on the couch in our pajamas, watching Jersey Shore on TV, with an empty ice cream carton beside us dripping its sparse remnants onto our unread copy of Moby Dick. We feel more stuffed than a pothead after a convenience store run, and in disgust we set fire to our hopeful little list (and our gym membership card), and light a cigarette from the burning embers.
After several years of this self-destructive nonsense, we start to feel like Charlie Brown right after Lucy yanks the football away from him, and he ends up flat on his back, wondering how the hell he fell for that trick again. It’s the very definition of stupidity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Charlie Brown should just realize that Lucy will never stop being amused by watching him fall on his ass, and we should realize that major life overhauls don’t work.
So I am hereby starting the Anti-Charlie Brown movement in an effort to prevent future emotional wipeouts. If you decide to join, you will forever swear off mile-long resolution lists and unrealistic expectations. Joining the movement with a friend would work especially well, this way if you try to set your sights on a ridiculously unattainable goal, your partner will be there to smack you upside the head and yell, “You blockhead!”
So throw out that once clean slate of yours – the one that is far too banged up and bedraggled to ever be considered clean again. And pick one thing you want to change or start anew. Me? I’m going to expand my palate by trying new foods…. beginning with all 31 flavors at Baskin Robbins. See how easy that was?
It’s all about baby steps…..