Smoko: Wheels come off New Year's resolutions

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

- Bob Dylan, "Forever Young"

Curious things, resolutions, especially those New Year ones.

Normally you have to have a quorum, someone to move the motion, another to second it and a majority to pass it. But when the clock strikes midnight on January 31, between the "Happy New Years", the Auld Lang Synes, the glad-handing and good wishes, you are supposed to hold this one-person meeting, set out a blueprint for the forthcoming year in accordance with your vision statement and the challenges to hand, gain a consensus, and seal the deal.

Of course, some of us wake up the next morning with only a vague recollection of what we've signed ourselves up to, so is it any wonder we fall at the first hurdle?

Don't know how yours are going, but that's exactly what happened to me. Having publicly announced that in 2012 lateness for appointments would be strictly forbidden, on Monday, January 16, 7.45am had mysteriously morphed into 7.50am by the time I showed up at the gym to be, quite rightly, razzed: "What kind of a resolution do you call that?"

Was there the merest hint of retribution in the punishing routine that followed? Or was that just the shocked and plaintive squealing of holiday season excesses?

Regardless, two weeks and two days is not a good look.

Note to self: "Must do better."

Equally, the message from the bathroom scales has not been heartening. It seems to be saying that this year's Christmas gift to self has been the two or three kilograms painstakingly worn down over the past six months. Such spiteful generosity.

Perhaps it was an aberration.

Scales can be so unpredictable, even the finely calibrated digital ones. Besides, the loosening waistline of my Levis seemed to be telling another story. And doesn't muscle weigh more than fat?

But, no, an apprehensive sidelong glance in the (spouse's) full-length mirror confirms the worst: the unnecessary deposit of adipose tissue sitting above the hips has not magically transformed itself into a tightly contoured abdominal six-pack.

I blame Bob Dylan. After all, it was this cheerleading rebel of the baby-boomer mob who wrote Forever Young, and a generation old enough to know better turned it into an anthem. Now, the same cadre - yours truly included - has to be dragged kicking and screaming, into what used to be quaintly known as "middle age", late or early as the case may be, and as the definitions of the day slip and slide, oiled by fashion and social dictum.

It is one of our remarkable attributes to be able to say with the mind-boggling capacity for self-deception that seems, in part, to define us, that you are only as old as you feel - when a growing list of physical and mental ailments would seem to indicate otherwise. These aches and pains, afflictions and sprains then demand the attentions of the general practitioner, the physio, the dentist, the shrink, the osteopath, the herbal healer, whatever witchdoctor we feel might best align diagnosis with self-image.

Still, we all have our crosses to bear. If growing old reluctantly, even disgracefully, is one of them, it will just have to be worn.

For my part, those couple of kilos will have to go, and a couple more for good measure, so it's back on to the bike.

February is the month of the 2012 Bike Wise Challenge, four weeks of pedalling, puffing, panting and - if you're particularly unlucky - punctures, en route to better health and fitness on two wheels.

Companies do it; groups do it; even motivated individuals do it. So it'll be waking with one eye on the weather vane and the other ear on the forecast, hoping like heck for a nor'easter to caress a cyclist along the peninsula road to town and work in the mornings, and a southerly change to blow his weary legs home at night.

(Often as not, of course, it seems to be the other way round, a test of even the most steadfast of ambitions.)

I might even try to get a head start while January lasts.

But I won't be calling it a resolution. I'm not sure I can raise a quorum. Besides, it would inevitably prove to be the kiss of death.

 - Simon Cunliffe is deputy editor (news) at the Otago Daily Times.



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