Resolutions for a Brave New Year
I’m of two minds about New Year resolutions. Most of them have the same shelf life as a week – old Mimosa forgotten behind the curtains on a window sill on a long-forgotten New Year’s morning. There it stands, hidden, steadfast until someone clears it away; it serves as a mute sentinel to the party that ended days, weeks, even months before.
But it’s the resolutions themselves that I’m interested in. In particular, I’m interested in the spirit which prompts them to arise. Where did they come from? What purpose do they serve? What are they for?
I don’t have an answer to these deceptively simple questions. All I know is I can be rolling along quite contentedly when all of a sudden, the need for one or more resolutions emerges as from the depths like flat-topped stepping stones that present themselves to the eye of cautious travellers as the waters flowing around them gently recede. They offer one indication of a way forward; they hint at the possibility of getting to a place called ‘The Other Side’ while still keeping my feet as comfortably dry as they already are ‘Over Here’.
The mid-point of the year is one of the places offering a calendar-driven opportunity to reflect, first of all, on how well I might be doing with any personal resolutions I made made last January.
I already know the answer to that question: not as well as I’d hoped.
Here at the end of the sixth month of the year, I thought it might be worthwhile to review how We, the collective We, might be been doing with some of the collective resolutions that have been proposed to us from time to time over the past number of years and decades.
I think the answer to that question is almost self-evident: not too well!
By coincidence, I was looking into the fifteen year old archive of John Michael Greer’s The Archdruid Report, which the author closed back in 2017 in its eleventh year. It was toward the end of 2006 where Mr. Greer proposed ten New Year’s Resolutions, “for a world on the brink of the deindustrial age. . . “.
For those who’ve forgotten or who were not yet born, in 2006 the fledgling internet was animated by a lot of crowd-chatter about the fairly new popular awareness of “Peak Oil”, understood as the highest point of annual world oil production, An inevitable event which after it had been surpassed a variety of calamities and crises would ensue.
When Peak Oil based calamities and crises didn’t arrive suddenly enough to satisfy the internet cloud monkeys, I noticed a lot of manic excitement and speculative disasterizing combined with just plain crazy-talk. Noise would rush in to fill the gap.
In those days I appreciated Mr. Greer’s knowledgeable approach to the issue of Peak Oil as much as his calm, practical approach to the problems at hand. He recommended a sensible approach that most [North] Americans could take with minimal cost and inconvenience. This advice was typical:
For some people the following ideas will be impractical, and for almost everyone they will be at least a little inconvenient. All of them, however, will be an inescapable part of the reality most Americans will have to live with in the future – and quite possibly the very near future, at that. The sooner people concerned with peak oil and the rest of the predicament of industrial society make changes like these in their own lives, the better able they will be to surf the waves of industrial decline and help other people make the transition toward sustainability.
The archdruid went on to suggest his “10 Possible Resolutions for a Post-Peak New Year”. I’ve listed them below without Mr. Greer’s encouraging commentary, as follows:
1. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents;
2. Retrofit your home for energy conservation;
3. Cut back on your gasoline consumption;
4. Plant an organic vegetable garden;
5. Compost your food waste;
6. Take up a handicraft;
8. Take charge of your own health care;
9. Help build your local community;
10. Explore your spirituality.
Irrespective of whether or not you’ve seen resolutions like these before, I invite readers of this blog to comment on these or other collective resolutions they’ve made over the years, to propose new or different ones and suggest other approaches all together.
In weeks to come, with your feedback and support, I’ll be exploring the themes identified in the 10 resolutions above, as well as other topics that may arise along the way. I’ll do my best to respond to advice & suggestion received in the comments section of this blog. I invite any and all discussion, commentary and argument as long as it’s presented in a civil manner. If it’s not, after a caution from me, I’ll block you!