Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolutions in Reverse (Reflections on Eat, Pray, Love)

Every year around this time, I head over to the gym with renewed dedication only to find half the townsfolk with the same noble intention.  This year though, I decided to approach my resolutions a little differently.  A few days before New Year’s Eve, I accidentally grabbed the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” rather than my intended first choice.  Of course, not wanting to let the dollar rental go to waste, I watched the movie despite the fact that I had distinctly disliked the book.  After getting past the subversive Hollywood messages promoting selfishness, thinly disguised as following your dreams, I gathered a few interesting bits and pieces of pearls that helped form my reverse resolutions this year.
1)      Early on in the movie there is mention of a poor man who goes every day to pray before a sacred statue.  He consistently begs the statue “Please, please, please let me win the lottery.” After years and years of the same unanswered prayer, the fed-up statue finally responds “Please, please, please buy a lottery ticket.”  While I am morally and religiously opposed to the whole concept of the lottery (whether it’s Pick 6 or Shirley Jackson style), I still appreciate the moral of the proverb.  I realized that my former knee-jerk reaction would have been to metaphorically buy ten thousand lottery tickets to increase my chances of hitting the jackpot.  Instead, my reverse resolution this year is to adopt the mantra that “less is more” and to accept that as powerful as prayer is, action is also a must.  But, the key is to find a happy balance somewhere between utter inaction and obsessive neurotic over-action.  Maybe one lottery ticket and lots of prayer will be just enough this year.

2)      Il dolce far niente”—the Italian art of doing nothing.  It’s a foreign concept for most of us stress-loving, productivity-addicted East Coasters. The delicious idea of “doing nothing” and being satisfied with a do-nothing day once in awhile is as foreign as the words themselves.  Reverse resolution on this one:  accept that it’s okay to sometimes stay in bed a little longer than usual, leave a few dishes in the sink and order take-out for dinner-- without scheduling it in.     

3)      Enjoying food, family, and fun—guilt free, without measuring myself or anyone else by a productivity scale that’s sure to disappoint.  Getting rid of the Size 2 dress that I know I’m never going to fit back into and accepting that whether I’m a size 2 or a 12, I’ll always find something to wear, even if it means draping myself in my old baby blue maternity muumuu for awhile. 

4)      Letting go—“It is what it is”—beginning with tearing up this year’s list of resolutions.  Knowing that it’s okay to break these resolutions and slip back into my old familiar neurotic self is as liberating as tearing through a bag of Doritos and washing them down with a chocolate chip cookie-- a cardinal sin for any weight watcher.  Ironically, the “do something” Doritos campaign mocks me from the nearly empty red bag as I lick the sticky orange stuff off my fingers.

5)      Resist the urge to whine and realize that a little faith and a lot of love goes a long way in putting everything in perspective. 

I hope you have as much fun as I did putting together a ‘dispensable’ resolutions list and that 2011 is filled with new blessings and new beginnings for all!
                      -Suzy Ismail

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