For me, New Year’s resolutions work. After making such goals, I have run a marathon, competed in a triathlon and crossed the Kaiwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu in an outrigger canoe. Once, I lost 10 pounds and won an office pool. Another time I not only started going back to church regularly, I helped start a church—Unity of Kauai.
The biggest resolution I ever made started innocently enough. “I resolve to spend the next year researching the possibility of moving to Hawaii.”
That was 11 years ago. One year later, my husband and I sold a four-bedroom house, three cars and gave away most of our household goods. With two dogs and 11 boxes to our name, we moved from Kansas to Hawaii.
Did I mention the bumper sticker on the back of my car? It reads, “I believe in the possibility of everything.” (A gift from my author friend and mentor Hope Edelman who published The Possibility of Everything in fall 2009.)
In my mind, resolutions are nothing more than goals and goals are nothing more than deadlines. If it wasn’t for deadlines, I would get no writing done—started maybe (a good hook and a good lede) but not finished (no ### or the end at the close of a story). Deadlines keep me going when the initial burst of inspiration fizzles. Deadlines help me finish things.
So, I believe in New Year’s resolutions. Yet, here it is January 7, and I have not yet set my New Year’s resolution for 2010. I’ve considered many: Walk the entire coastline of Kauai. Photograph every beach on Kauai at sunset. Walk my neighborhood beach every (or every other) day. Write every morning before doing anything else—brushing my teeth, steeping my tea, walking the dog.
But nothing sticks. These are too easy. I should exercise, write and get out of my office to enjoy the beauty of my island anyway. (Not that I do.)
A couple weeks ago, a group of virtual writer friends started posting their goals for 2010. They could all be my own: Write more, publish more, stop procrastinating. But out of the dozens of New Year’s resolutions I read, one stood out. And ever since I read it, I have pondered it. Rolled it around in my mouth like my dog eats peanut M&Ms.
Is it acceptable to steal someone else’s New Year’s resolution? In the world of writing, plagiarism is verboten. Really, I admonished myself, I should come up with my own resolution—I am a creative person, after all. But, I thought, if more people adopted my friend’s resolution, then maybe we wouldn’t be sending more young people to Afghanistan with weapons. Maybe we’d be sending them with stones to build schools, a la Greg Mortenson. Maybe we wouldn’t need to strip down at security checkpoints at airports. Maybe we wouldn’t need to lock our doors at night.
And, so, I offer this resolution—with Eric Hiss’ permission—for you to claim as your own. Pay it forward. Tell others. Encourage friends, family and foe to do the same.
Now, you might be thinking, sure this is easy for you to do, Kim. You live in the land of aloha. And, it’s true, Hawaii is synonymous with the word “aloha.” It’s warm and sunny where I live. But that doesn’t mean everyone practices aloha, especially as globalization dilutes the host culture of these islands, try as we may to hold on to key Hawaiian traditions. In Hawaii, as well as elsewhere, we often wait for the other person to make the first move. Even with aloha. Even with something as simple as a smile.
And, so, for that reason, my New Year’s resolution for 2010 is this:
Be the first to smile.
Go ahead. Adopt it as your own—even if just for a month, a week, a day. And let me know how it works. Sure you may brighten someone else’s day; however, my guess is that over time, this resolution will make you—and me—a different person. I believe that this resolution will change my outlook on life. It will make me a happier person at my core. And from a foundation of joy, I can face anything—a sour economy, airport delays and red lights. It might even make me like to exercise. But probably not.