The hype of New Year resolutions

The hype of New Year resolutions

To be resolute is to be firm in purpose or belief; and the resolute figure is characterised by firmness and determination in the pursuit of what the Americans call “Happyness”: what it is in real terms evades my understanding because it looks like a many armed entity, whose tentacles far outnumber those of an octopus, and whose perspectives see in more directions than the spider’s eight eyes can see.

This kind of happiness demands more of the mind than the average woman and man have, and it costs more than an arm and a leg to attain; and so men and women make resolutions at the beginning of each Gregorian calendar year and make vows to achieve this, that, these, those things that each vehemently believes in over the first two quarters of the year, but which, come August, the mad rush and stampede of the “festive season” kicks in and those best laid plans of January are forgotten, and in their place are the ‘needs’ of pleasure that form the mainstay of the Christmas season.

Those “resolutions” made at the beginning of the year could well mean something, if the amount of commitment to the decisions made equalled the action to execute them.
Plans are made, but the action to see them through to their point of success is nonexistent; and those resolutions made at this point in the year end up meaning nothing, amounting to nothing.The fireworks on New Year’s Eve that scared the dogs into frenzied fits of self-flagellation that had the poor canines choking themselves on their leashes, and hiding themselves in the darkest corners of the limited spaces of their kennels (if they had any, for most dogs are not afforded the luxury of such fancy contraptions in this country) with their forepaws covering their flappy ears.

The noisy display heralded the beginning of yet another uncertain year where many a soul would have their best laid plans “to make money, or get rich” on a scrap of yesteryear paper in one hand, a quart of alcohol on the other paw, and a cigarette hanging between the lips, and a howling band of drunk pals screaming “Happy New Year!” all around. The fireworks are a salvo, a first barrage into what will turn into tumultuous year where many will watch their best laid plans fade as a mirage in the heat of the Sahara or evaporate as a keg of malt in the heat of the Atacama.

The truth is that these plans are good, and they in reality have strong motivations behind them, but their failure lies in their being launched with the wrong intention at heart.
It is good to get rich because it affords one the luxury of eating as many Big Macs or spare ribs as the growing belly can handle without the worry of where one will get the money to pay the fees for their children’s education in the exorbitantly high priced model private schools offering low price education. If the dream to get rich is based on owning the latest model motor carriage to show off at weddings and funerals, then such a dream is dead even before the dreamer wakes up from their stupor.

It is good to get rich, but for the African, there is no African model of what to do should one stumble upon a pot of Kruger Rands or win the lotto. Getting rich in this continent means that there will be more cousins to please, more “favours” to pay back to people that were not there in the days of your struggle, and more visits from the taxman who conveniently appears out of nowhere as soon as the sixth figure is registered in one’s bank account. Getting rich is a travail, but it is the number one priority on many a resolution and bucket list.

Where one will get Caesar’s lucre is not the concern, how it will be got is limited to a few areas where some diligent individual made their fortune, and because he or she made their money doing what they did best, many individuals with half researched plans written on half-drunk, partly written resolutions think they too can make it if they follow in the individual’s footsteps; and many will fail because the resolution is not written for the sole purpose of being a copycat that steals other people’s ideas and to present them as one’s own.

The resolution is about being resolute, being persistent, being diligent and tenacious, being virtuous and honourable, being honest and trustworthy, being the individual that knows where the mountains of their minds peak and the oceans of their souls have their floors.
Those tips from some motivational book by a paperback author in a shiny suit and two-tone shoes do not work for everyone, and they are not money that can buy everything or pay for every dream on the resolution list. The individual that makes the resolution first has to be resolute themselves, for one cannot hope to attain that which they are not. A pilgrim has to have the spirit of the wanderer, and as the jazz maestro Abdullah Ibrahim states in his own words:

To compose a piece of music, one first has to be composed himself . . .
True words that apply to everyone in every season, we first have to understand ourselves to know what it is we can achieve, how we will reach it, and to know that when we will achieve it does not really matter as long as we work committedly towards its attainment on a daily basis. Laziness comes naturally to those that enjoy the repose in the arms of comfort, and it shies from the presence of the man and woman whose hands are forever busy with something productive; letting heavy eyelids blur the sight of an intended target is the worst concession one can make: diligent work for the achievement of a profitable outcome is the best decision any one resolute individual can make.

Distractions come in many forms, and they often come from unwatched corners in enticing forms that seem innocent at a glimpse. These seemingly innocent distractions are in reality hijackers standing in the way of the dream; the dream whose goal is to get the dreamer some relative form of comfort or at least some semblance of it if the full bouquet cannot be got, the dream whose sole purpose is to afford its owner the ultimate of all pursuits: contentment.

Contentment is not superficial and temporal as the modern day’s American dreams of bling-bling, half or fully nude nubile maidens twerking in close-up music video shots that have the African youths drunk on impossible visions of a nirvana they will never reach.

Such dreams are not wrong per se, I just think they should be limited to the small media screens where they are flashed on, and they should not be given sway in our poverty stricken quarters where they wreak havoc with their messages of confusion, narcissistic selfies on social media websites, and dimwit comments and foolish wisdoms only good for those that are high on the peyote of delusion. Contentment means being satisfied with what one gets, and knowing deep in the gut that the ultimate dream shall one day be reached despite or in spite of the challenges that are in the way.

Contentment is not as delusional as the brainwashing visions of mountains of cash, as presented by the Mavrodies of the world and their fickle pyramid scheme promises of instant wealth. Contentment is not a flash as anxiety levels of the current world are; contentment keeps patience as a constant partner: for patience begets its possessor every wish. Contentment should therefore be the main driver behind every resolution plan every year that begins. I am five years away from the completion of score years, and the satisfaction I have is that those fifteen years have all been begun on a sober mind.

One cannot hope to cross a stream if their spring is from groggy eyes, and heavy legs weighed down by the hangover of the long binge of the festive season. Quaffing copious quantities of liquor over the holidays means that one will begin their term of work at a pace the snail, the sloth and the tortoise will contemptuously sneer at. The advice I give is that the year should be begun on a fresh mind and thoughts of hanging out with the “homies” should be limited to those moments when the dreamer happens to meet them at funerals and weddings on the weekends.

No single figure whose resolutions actually went and made a meaningful impact in the world ever hung out with the homies over a beer or glass of wine. What these figures did was to stick to the plan, to follow the details of the plan to the tee, and to act in accordance with the guidelines of their dream.

It is a lonely travail to achieve, and it is  a road one will most likely travel alone as soon as they decide to be resolute in the pursuit of their dream. The great Classical Roman statesman, orator, Latin prose master, and public figure Cicero (106-43 BC), stipulated that one should know and understand their history, for one who does not learn from the mistakes of their past essentially remains a child.

I had to borrow the words of this master, and in the process read on the lives of other great figures as Thomas Alva Edison, Henry Ford, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, and other great men who left an indelible mark on the history of the world because of their choices to stick with their chosen dreams to better human existence in the face of inescapable process of human and world evolution and progress.

Among these figures, the following words the essay Poor Richard by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) the great American who actually gave birth to the term ‘American Dream’ as a concept advises:
He that by the plough would thrive, Himself must either hold or drive.
There is no dream attained in the absence of the owner, without the involvement of the originator, or sans the commitment of the conceiver.  Be involved fully, and never hope that some good Samaritan will come along with the ‘capital’ to begin the venture that will be the passport out of the slums.

And as fuel for the long road down the months beginning in the house of January and ending in the halls of December this year, I quote the 13 virtues and their precepts as Benjamin Franklin put them: Temperance — Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation.
Silence — Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
Order — Let all your things have their places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.
Resolution — Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
Frugality — Make no Expence but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste Nothing.
Industry — Lose no Time. Be always employ’d in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions. Sincerity — Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly. Justice — Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty. Moderation — Avoid Extreams. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.

Cleanliness — Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Cloaths or Habitation.
Tranquility — Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable
Chastity — Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring, Never to Dulness, Weakness, or Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation. Humility — Imitate Jesus and Socrates.   There are many other guide virtues and their precepts, this one with many strange spellings (which are not misspellings) sounds the most relevant for the day. Learn to stick to the plan this year, and the year’s achievements will remain forever stuck on your name. Speak what you believe, and do what you speak: that is the resolution this year. ‘Til we meet again’.

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