January 2011

JANUARY 2011: He Says, She Says - New Year's Resolutions

Author: Keith Kelson & Jean Wharton | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Well, it’s that time of year again—time to make those New Year’s resolutions that we all tend to break. But the year 2011 is different, because the year 2012 is on the horizon. The Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012, which, according to some folks with the tinfoil headgear, signals the end of the world as we know it.

I knew the Mayans had a calendar, but I didn’t think that they were some kind of calendar experts. I thought they were too busy performing human sacrifices and using various hallucinogenic plants to be concerned with something as mundane as a calendar. But I guess if you’re going to be tossing virgins into volcanoes as sacrifices, you do need to have a schedule, and having an efficient calendar would help.

I’m not easily swayed by the tinfoil hat-wearing crowd, and I believe what my Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Myers said about doomsday: “No man knows the day or the hour, and if anyone says they do, ignore them because they don’t know what they’re talking about.” This would also include the Mayans. It’s funny how an ancient civilization known for performing bizarre rituals on members of its population is now considered a credible source of information. If I were a Mayan and saw that they were performing human sacrifices, I’d change my name and move to another country.

The Mayan calendar aside, I’m going all out with my resolutions this year. I’m getting older, and even though I don’t have a bucket list per se, there are some things I need to do. Now is as good a time as any to do them. What follows is an abbreviated list of my resolutions:

1) Try some of the other 28 flavors at Baskin Robbins. I know we all say that and end up sticking with the big three (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry), but this year will be different.

2) Learn to play the piano, trumpet and saxophone. Learning one instrument is a daunting task, but I’ve already purchased a DVD that promises to teach novices the piano in a week, so I’ve only got to work on learning the sax and the trumpet. Wynton Marsalis plays the trumpet, so it can’t be that hard.

3) Build one of those garden railroads. I’m a big fan of trains, and some of my fondest childhood memories are watching the trains go by at my grandma’s house. So, a small-scale, fully functioning version of New York’s Grand Central Station shouldn’t be too hard to build.

4) Become the executive producer of James Plant’s debut CD, The Notorious J.I.M. James is the voice of the suburban dad, and his rhymes will open your eyes to their plight. Bruce Springsteen said he wished “Born to Run” was half as good. Track number six, “Straight Outta Bluffton,” will change your life.

5) Get a Myspace page and Twitter account. Please don’t misunderstand. I still believe that both services are utterly useless, but to remain accessible to my legions of fans, I have to bite the bullet on this one.

6) Sponsor a street fighter tourney on Hilton Head. I’m going to call it, “The Lowcountry Brawl” and invite all the big names like Justin Wong, Mike Ross, Alex Valle, Ryan Hart, and Daigo Umehara.

7) Look up all my former employers and show them my winning lottery ticket. Yes, I know it’s kind of mean-spirited, but when I taunt a former employer with my newfound wealth, it’s merely to show how underpaid I was.

Well, that’s my short list, and here’s hoping that all of you have a prosperous and happy New Year. Now, I’m off to the printer to deliver the rest of the Mayan calendar. It actually ends in the year 6067, but I forgot to return the rest of it after checking it out at the library in 1985. Who knew it would cause such a fuss?


I safely tow the line between hopeful optimism and anxious pragmatism. In most of my life’s decisions I hedge my bets while playing the odds. It’s safe to say that I look for the best in any given situation, only after I’ve exhausted all possible negative outcomes and perspectives. If the world as we know it is to end in 2012 as the ancient Mayans predicted, I can’t say that my life would drastically change.

I’d love to say that I’d drain my bank accounts, cash out my retirement and sell my possessions so that I could take a trip around the world to see all the sights on my growing bucket list. But the truth is, I can’t say I really believe those Mayans, and where is the guarantee?

We are only guaranteed this very moment, and we all know how fleeting that moment is. Blink and you’ve missed it. Close your eyes a bit longer and a week, month, year or decade have passed. Think of life that way and every year could be your last. Talk to anyone who has suffered profound loss or experienced a life altering illness or accident, and he or she will affirm that living in the moment is the only true happiness. I don’t need archaic mystics to remind me that we should live each day as if it were our last.

But my sensible approach to answering this question is boring, right? I should be telling you to quit your job, search for lost loves, and travel to faraway lands. If I were more adventurous, I’d be packing my bags for Paris, selling my car and abandoning my possessions. But then what? Would I live in Paris when the world comes to an end? Would I have enough money to make it though the year? What would my family and friends think? Would they quit their jobs, bring their families to live out the year in Paris? How about my family? I don’t even know what’s on their bucket lists; what if Paris isn’t? My, oh my! This line of open-ended questioning can get a girl tossing and turning in her bed at night.

Whether this is our last year as a civilization or the first of new eon in history, I think it’s high time we work out some of our, for lack of a better term, bullsh**! Call your mother; tell your father you love him; ask for forgiveness and give it in return. Release your inhibitions and prejudices that prevent you from authentically sharing who you are meant to be on this earth. Surrender your dependence on outside approval from friends, family and strangers. Give up that perpetual exploration for life’s meaning that you’ve been searching for while shopping, eating, drinking or gossiping.

In the words of Chuck Palahniuk, “We’re polishing the brass on the Titanic; it’s all going down, man!” What use will your perfect house or stylish wardrobe be to you as human empires cease to exist and our planet perishes? My resolutions for 2011 are no different than any other year: Live each day to its fullest while planning for the next to be even better.

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