This is the time of year when people ask me about my resolutions. I never have much to say in response to this, only partially because I am stunned at the suggestion that I am not perfect as it is. The main reason I can’t get too excited about New Year’s resolutions is that I get so many of them donated.
Look yonder, pilgrim: just Friday I had that big stack of blank journals come in, not a word in most of them. A few of them haven’t even been out of their shrinkwrap yet. One of them does have a line in bold black pen: “My Thoughts for 2008”. Maybe they wound up not having any.
Over here, we have, of course, the exercise books and the diet books. Every single one of those represents a promise somebody made to themselves, or to someone important. Now it could be—yes, you’re right, chocolate chowder; I admit it—it could indeed be that the person who donated those succeeded in their goal and no longer needed the guidebooks. But please note the presence of two sales slips in that one, one from the bookstore (December 29) and one from Pizza Hut (February 3).
Just above that section, we have, not far from each other, the foreign language and the travel sections. I know I complain about the travel books that have been used and written in: their maps torn out and certain restaurants circled. But are the ones which look as if they’ve been opened only once all that much better? Especially when paired with these new-looking volumes titled “Welsh In Ten Minutes” and “Colloquial Czech”? I know people who include among their resolutions that they’re going to travel somewhere more exciting than Pizza Hut this year. I never do get to see their vacation pictures.
Those? Well, now, I have a personal grudge against those. And yet I owe them a little something, too. Those are the how-to guides on decluttering your life, filled with simple declarations that you can’t really love your house if it’s full of stuff, that if your memories really require all those old photos then they’re not really important memories, and that any souvenir that makes you sad about the passage of time is merely counterproductive. These people come from another planet: a cold one.
Still and all, if it weren’t for these demented aliens writing their bizarre books, I wouldn’t have so many people cleaning out their closets and attics, now, would I? True, I’d have to do without whoever it was who brought me this pair of jeans, the sweater, and all these old leather glasses cases (I do not sell jeans or sweaters, and glasses cases present no wonderful spectacle, either.) But I never would have had that memorial book calligraphed by C.L. Ricketts, either, which some house organizer convinced the house owner he didn’t need.
So I leave resolutions to other people: they wind up doing me more good than my own might. Absolutely sure you want to resolve to read the entire multi-volume edition of The Golden Bough? Fine; I’ll take the books when you’ve finished (I’m betting forty pages in, but you may be made of sterner stuff.) Convinced that THIS year you’re going to get into the kitchen and make flan and roast suckling pig and tapioca meatloaf? Send the cookbooks over later; we ask no questions. Determined to make this the year your significant other and offspring will eat only healthy foods? Tell your significant other I only take the books; if you get put in a box, that donation must go elsewhere.
I have enough trouble disposing of jeans and sweaters.