It's that time of year again, when we try to pretend we're making a serious attempt at becoming slightly less wretched in the next 12 months than in the few that just preceded.
It's my second-least favourite part of the year, and not just because all my news feeds seem to think the thing I want the most to fill my quieter-than-usual days is more of the same stories I already read or heard about.
But hey. Resolutions.
Or how to be a better person. Other than by ordering a personality transplant, which I'm pretty sure constitutes cheating anyway. What to do, what to do?
Resolutions? Yeah, sure. But you know what happens to those...
I know you know. I know it too. And yet, and yet.
Roll, ye little drum.
For 2019 (and, ideally, beyond) I would like to be less annoyingly badass. Allow me to explain.
I've spent the last three years doing competitive karate and chronicling same. Rather obsessively, I might add. I wrote endless blog posts, tweets, Facebook whatchamacallits, posted who knows how many sweaty shots of my mean muggin on Instagram, and otherwise made a pest of myself boasting about how much I was hurting.
Hell, I even wrote a book about it. (Wanna do the universe a favour and buy a copy? Amazon would thank you.)
In the process of becoming a karate world champion, I became champion of the galaxy at being outspokenly badass. But mostly tedious.
I want to change that.
I retired from karate. Not just competitive karate. The whole thing. After 17 years and a bit, three black belts and two consecutive world titles, it was time to try something else, and not just because my earthly vessel was starting to creak in a worrisome manner (more than usual, I mean).
No, I really wanted to be a beginner at something. To work my way up - but not too far up. Just far enough.
I took up swimming.
My partner, who many moons ago did competitive swimming, is sort of a natural in the pool. Me, enh. I mean, I can swim alright. But not like he does. Back and forth and back and forth and back and so on. Freestyle, which has never been my favourite. Back when I used to swim in the lake, I would do a fair bit of breast-stroking, but not the very fast kind. I can breast-stroke until kingdom come, provided it arrives slowly. But freestyle? Half a length of pool and I want to die.
Or did. Because I'll have you know I’ve become remarkably better at it.
I was about to describe how much and how fast I swim now, which isn’t shabby at all. I wrote it down too. But then I erased it because why not start this self-improvement thing now?
Let’s just say my swimming makes me happy. I won't break any records or win anything, and in a way that's exactly the goal. To not compete or win anything, except the satisfaction of knowing I'm getting better at it. Mostly I want to keep enjoying the lovely feeling you get when you push on the water and it works, meaning you move forward reasonably elegantly instead of floundering in the general direction of the clump of hair stuck in the filter down below.
I also love the steam bath after the swim. Such a luxury to sweat sitting down.
It’s different, to swim without yakking about it constantly. I do other sports (running, conditioning, weights, spinning, and yoga which isn't necessarily always a sport but what the hey) that I enjoy as much as swimming, and I love being able to combine them in all manner of configurations to suit my oft-changing fancy.
I used to think sharing my fitness and training adventures in very painful detail was a good idea because it might inspire others to keep pushing themselves when they didn't feel like it. And maybe it did, some of the time. But to steal a quote from Rex in Toy Story, I now worry I mostly came off as annoying.
I'd like to be able to inspire people to believe in themselves, but the irritating truth is that I have no idea how to do that.
I am surrounded by wonderful souls. Some of whom I even care about. A handful of those I care about deeply. And I am consumed by the need to make them feel what I see in them, and perplexed (that's a good understatement right there) by how little they do no matter what I do or say.
I worry often that I don't know what to say to make people believe in themselves. That I go too hard on them. Make them feel like failures for not trying hard enough.
I also worry (and this is related), that I have no patience with people who take small steps and/or fumble along the way on their path to becoming their better selves.
But here's the thing. I hate seeing people start making progress then decide they're too scared or not good enough to continue, before fleeing to the ice cream tub. I see so much promise, so much potential. And I want to (i)scream.
I won't. I won't scream, I won't bitch, I won't criticize as much, and above all I will not boast about how freakishly crazy fit (or maybe it's just plain old crazy) I am.
That's not much of a resolution, but maybe it'll help.