A new year brings with it optimism and the illusion of a clean slate. With New Year’s Resolutions it’s like the Fates hand us an annual “Get Out of Jail Free” card; permission for a “do over” in any aspect of your life. However, to me, resolutions seem unsustainable, not to mention unfair. I can’t sustain them and it’s unfair to ask anyone else to feign interest in them.
The melancholy that accompanies a year gone by fosters reflection giving the opportunity to consider prescriptive remedies for the world. With the current slate of wars, continued environmental destruction and global economic disparity, there are no shortage of opportunities for conscientious involvement. And to ignore involvement seems incredibly selfish.
I don’t have a resolution for 2007, but rather a goal. By the end of this year, I hope to be a little closer to my idealized self.
I want to be the kind of person who leaves the car at home when possible, who buys less of the unnecessary and gets in touch with the world through quiet contemplation. I want to be someone who offers solutions instead of merely complains about the issues.
If I threw away all my foibles and became that person, I think I would come across as insufferable, giving friends, family, strangers and dogs the right to be wary of me. Instead of radical change, I’m opting incremental advancement, moving towards my goal by, say, 10 to 15 per cent this year.
I don’t for a minute believe that my hanging up the car keys two days a week will solve global warming, but it’s better than adding to the problem. The same holds for participating more conscientiously in the marketplace. Getting in touch with the world through quit contemplation is a little trickier. For one thing, it takes going out in the world.
Last year, I received a winter jacket for Christmas and took a post-holiday adventure that found me trapped waist-deep in a swamp, expressing rather loud and inflated concerns about my mortality to my Spousal Equivalent (SE) while becoming progressively late for a dinner date. It was six months before I ventured into nature again.
This year, as Christmas approached, I considered a number of opportunities that would get our entire family in touch with the great outdoors. I pondered a post Christmas present opening sleigh ride. I imagined Number One and Number Two snuggled under plaid blankets (the kind endorsed by the Queen) sipping hot cocoa and recounting the pleasures of their morning as we traversed an alpine valley freshly blanketed by snow pulled by a pair of well-natured Clydesdales. Sun streaming through the trees; dry, light snow — the type that incites the sound of jingling Christmas bells in made-for-TV movies — gently falling from the predominantly blue skies; SE and I would look on proudly at the children and give thanks for our miraculous life.
When I realized what kind of up-sell would be involved to recreate this Eddie Bauer catalogue cover, I knew I had to come up with another idea.
The answer was simple. Snowshoeing! A chance for quiet contemplation in the great outdoors. Dry snow. Sun streaming through trees. Jingling bells. Rentable equipment. It was perfect.
The weather failed to cooperate as New Year’s Day coincided with the arrival of the Pineapple Express. SE and I (the children had sensibly left the region) headed off in search of snow like a parody of a Canadian road movie. I almost expected to find cast members of Corner Gas in the backseat of the aptly named Escape .We finally found the snow. It refused to gently drift, preferring to pelt down. Undaunted, we climbed into our bindings and went for a hike along Shadow Lake.
I soon discovered the reason people are not born with 30-inch long feet. Within a quarter-mile of my first foray into this quintessential Canadian winter sport, I tripped and landed with my left snowshoe winding up behind my right ear. As my long-suffering SE struggled to upright me, I discovered that my knee did not have 28 points of articulation. I felt compelled to share this knowledge, resulting in my one truly crabby moment.
Once on my feet, I soldiered on with steely resolve. I moved forward undaunted as frozen branches whipped my face and water ran from my fully saturated fleece hat into my eyes as the promise of lunch seemed to move further and further away. However, unlike last year’s outdoor post-Christmas travesty, which also included battling prickly branches, mounting hunger and becoming water-logged, I didn’t complain. For an outdoor wimp like me, this represents a major improvement. Small incremental steps matter, even in snowshoes. Next year, I’m bringing snacks.