By Dave Healy
We know that the calendar — its weeks and months — is a contrivance.
Although the earth completes a revolution of the sun every 365.25 days, the start of a “new year” could be assigned to any particular date.
Nonetheless, we’ve settled on Jan. 1 as inaugurating another annum.
January is named for the two-faced Roman god Janus, who presides over transitions and beginnings. Like Janus, we look both fore and aft, reflecting on the year past and anticipating the one ahead.
We’re helped in the former endeavor by a host of year-end lists, reminding us of noteworthy events that transpired, noteworthy people who died, noteworthy films and books that debuted. There’s a word-of-the-year designation and numerous Best of the Year citations.
As far as looking ahead, there’s no shortage of prognosticators ready to predict any and everything: the weather, the economy, the stock market, international relations, sea levels, the Super Bowl, ad infinitum.
In the spirit of Janus, one can even look far back to find a seer whose crystal ball still garners attention: the 16th-century French physician and astrologer Nostradamus.
For some people, Jan.1 is also a time for resolutions. I hereby resolve that this year I will: quit smoking, lose 20 pounds, exercise regularly, get 8 hours of sleep, eat more vegetables, live by a budget, meditate daily, learn to play the piano, finish writing my novel, clean the garage, grow something other than tomatoes.
Our good intentions are impressive. The results? Ah, there’s the rub.
According to one poll, it takes 32 days for the average person to break a resolution, and 68% report giving up on them even sooner than that. There’s many a slip ’twixt cup and lip.
Although these are depressing statistics, I urge you not to despair. You need not be the average person. It’s possible to follow through on a New Year’s resolution.
I wouldn’t presume to guess what areas of your life might profit from a resolution. But here’s an all-purpose one, and it has the advantage of benefiting not only you but others as well.
In 2023, write a letter every month and mail it.
One requirement is that these be letters; text messages and emails don’t count. Another is that they be to individuals. Letters to the editor are a worthwhile endeavor, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
Ideally, your letters would be handwritten. However, if your handwriting is illegible, your cursive is curse-worthy, it’s okay to type your letters and print them. But however you execute them, put them in envelopes and mail them.
Letter writing need not be a lost art. Getting a personal letter in the mail is one of life’s sweetest pleasures.
Personal letters won’t solve the world’s problems, but they will make the world a kinder and friendlier place. And you can help make that happen.
Just do it.
Dave Healy lives in St. Anthony Park and is a poet/writer and former editor of the Bugle.