In practice, resolutions are always easier to make than to keep. Books are bought and placed on shelves, untouched. Gym memberships are used a grand total of twice and then hastily forgotten. It’s always easier to say than to do. Easy is good. I like easy. Lately, it seems like all anyone ever wants to talk about is what’s next. Where am I going, what do I plan on doing, what do I want to accomplish? In the next ten years, where do I see myself? Like I said, saying is easy. I can do easy.
In ten years from now, I would like to have done a lot of things. I’d like to graduate from college, get a job, and finally leave New Hampshire for more than just a couple weeks. Most importantly, I’d like to be financially stable enough to own a cat.
I’ve found that the key to success is to set the bar pretty low. So in the next ten years, I don’t want to have changed the world, rocketed off into deep space, or cured any kind of deadly disease. I want a cat, a dishwasher that works, and maybe some curtains. I want ear buds that I don’t have to replace every couple of months, a car where all the doors lock, and I want to have Sunday mornings off, so I can sleep in and then have pancakes for lunch, and dinner probably, since in ten years I will be 27, and can do whatever I want. Those are my resolutions for the next ten years. I’m feeling fairly confident that I can finish those up pretty neatly in the next decade.
I’ve noticed that resolutions are also almost always about finishing. Life, generally, is also almost always about finishing. Collectively, we throw a party practically every time anyone finishes anything. Graduations for finishing school, birthdays for finishing another year of life, and while funerals aren’t technically a party, you still get free food for showing up. Finishing is an important part of what we all do- but most times, when you finish something, you’re left with a big wad of nothing. It’s pretty much exactly like running a marathon. When you cross the finish line, it’s exhilarating, relieving. After all, you finally get to stop running. You walk around afterwards in a cloud of euphoria, but eventually, it dissipates, and you’re left with nothing. So what do you do? You tie your shoes, head out the door, and start training for the next race.
Remember that bar that I set? The really, really low one? I’m not saying we need to do away with it- after all, I’m still a huge fan of easy, but maybe it’s better to set another bar; a slightly higher one. On this bar, maybe I can put some less mundane dreams- branch out from cats and curtains and reach a little higher.
In ten years, I’d like to have read enough books that if I have a room that I call my “library” it isn’t just a couple of milk crates stacked with paperbacks. It’s an actual room, with one of those weird sliding ladders you can move along the bookcases. I’d like to have sailed across an ocean. Not by myself, since the ocean is terrifying, but on a boat with a crew who actually know what they’re doing. Flying over the ocean isn’t really the same as sailing across it. I want to experience sea legs, I want to see a dolphin outside of an aquarium, but mostly, I’d like to be scared out of my mind for a couple of days. Because again, the ocean is terrifying. It’s also pretty cool.
I’d like to learn another language. English isn’t everything, not by a long shot, and if I’m sailing across the ocean, I’m probably not landing somewhere where it’s the mother tongue. Also, I feel like it’d be surreal to be able to read all the text on the back of my shampoo bottle. I can assume that it’s the same as what I’m reading in English, but I can’t really know, can I? Maybe the Spanish speaking world doesn’t need to rinse and repeat. The possibilities are endless.
This bar that I’ve set for myself is nice. I like it. It’s above rock bottom, but if I fell off of it, I wouldn’t die. I might sprain my ankle, but I would definitely live. Two bars, though. That’s kind of an odd pair. Two bars are too few to do anything useful other than just sit there. Two bars are weird, because they don’t serve any purpose. They might boost you up a little, but in the end, it’s pretty easy to slide back down to the ground. But that doesn’t mean I need to do anything about it. To be honest, adding another bar just seems like a lot of work. These two bars down here are just fine, even if they don’t do anything helpful. What good is a third bar?
For starters, three bars is a ladder. And with a ladder, you can get to things that were out of your reach before. So what do I have up on the third bar? What am I reaching for?
In ten years, I’d like to have a home. Not to say that right now, I don’t, but in ten years, I want my definition of home to be my own. I want it to be something I found and cultivated for myself. When I think of home, I don’t want to think of hilly forests and driving for an hour to get anywhere. I want home to be mine. I want
it to be something I made for myself. I want a savings account that I don’t have to dip into for gas money. I want to get up for work without feeling like what I do is sucking away at my vitality. I want to be able to leave at the end of the day assured that I am exactly where I want to be.
If resolutions are all about finishing, then they have to all be about starting too. If you have a ladder, at some point, you would have to have built it. Bars don’t materialize out of thin air- you have to make them for yourself. Resolutions, while they can be generic, can’t be bought in a store. Your ladder might look like someone else’s, but when you look closer, get down to the grain, it’s easy to see that each one is unique. It’s like that because everyone’s aspirations are particular to them. The bars of their ladder are built continuously on top of themselves. It would be impossible to have the after, the fourth, fifth, sixth bar, if you didn’t already have the before, the first three bars to stand on.
I don’t know what the rest of my ladder looks like. I haven’t built it yet. I have a vague idea of what it’s going to end up as, an inclination as to what’s a few bars up. I don’t know how tall it is. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to climb it, what I’ll see when I look down. I definitely have no idea what’s going to stare back at me when I look up. I don’t know what I’ll use to build the rest of it, seeing as right now all I’m armed with is a pencil, and the ability to think on my feet. My ladder, my ten years, my resolutions. I haven’t quite made them yet. But standing here on the ground, with a few bars and all the time in the world, I feel like I can make something.
So, where do I want to be in ten years?
In ten years, I’d like a lot of things. Mostly, I’d like to be happy