I have always been a bit of a sucker for new things: a new school year, all new exercise books and shiny new pencil cases; a new year with a new diary just waiting for the painstaking list of New Year resolutions. So it is not really a surprise that for years I have carried on making New Year resolutions, long after the age when most sensible people give it up as a waste of time. Of course one of the problems of being in your fifties is that you know that the resolutions you make have been the same every year for quite a long time (exercise more, drink less, ring your friends more often) which is clear evidence that they don't work. I have tried ringing the changes by resolving to do things I think I will like to do. A couple of years ago, I resolved to be more glamorous on a Thursday I remember. I am not sure that I achieved that one in respect specifically of Thursday but it was part of a general desire not to disappear into jeans and fleeces every single day of my now rural life and I probably have managed that. I have also considered making no resolutions at all but always wonder whether that would just result in a long slide into a fat, lazy, drunk and friendless old age!
Besides, after a couple of weeks of food and indulgence over Christmas and New Year, the idea of a clean sheet is quite appealing. But what to resolve?
After a year where there has been a lot of family ill health I am once more painfully aware of how profound is the difference between health and sickness, so I am going to resolve to look after my body, not necessarily losing weight or anything cosmetic, just caring for the only body I have as it gets older. I know it doesn't always follow that keeping fit and healthy is a protection against illness, indeed my dad was as fit as anyone I knew of his age and that has not prevented him from developing the condition which has reduced his physical, though not mental, abilities over the last year or so. But nearly four years ago I walked the Offa's Dyke long distance path for 177 miles and a couple of years later I spent two weeks walking and climbing the high mountains of Austria. I think I would struggle with either of those right now. Two years or so of looking after other people and worrying about them too has left me with an increased tendency to reach for the glass of wine or the cheese scone and less time for myself. So I am going to make time to walk, an hour or so three or four times a week and a longer and more challenging walk a couple of times a month, and to go to my yoga class every week. We live in a fabulous place with hill walking straight from the door. I should get back to spending my time out in the hills as well as in the garden.
I am going to go places. We might not be able to go to Peru for a fortnight or New Zealand for a month because of the ways other people depend on us but we have worked out a way of being away for four or five days at a time so, while we can, we will do more flying visits to London for theatre and friends, more short breaks to France or Germany, Italy or the Hebrides. Life is short. Carpe diem.
I am going to have fun, to see my family and my friends, both old and new. Every month I will make time to see some of the interesting, lively and lovely people I know.
I am going to enjoy my garden, do the bits I like (taking cuttings, wandering about, thinking, planning) and less of the stuff which is just a drudge (for me veg growing and endless weeding).
In the midst of all the hard stuff that life throws at you, I am going to have a good time, both on my own and most importantly with the people I love.
Are these resolutions? I suppose so, of a kind.