Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Resolutions and Intentions

As the cosmic odometer rolled over to two thousand and eighteen, it was time again for the great tide of humanity to flow into local gyms.  It was resolution time, as we commit ourselves again to doing the things we know we really should already have been doing in the first place.  This is the year, we tell ourselves.

I'd thought a little bit about that, back in early November, as I wrestled with two things that really did require my attention.  They were stock-standard self-care.  First, I needed to get back into the habit of doing weight-bearing exercise.  I'm great at nice long leisurely contemplative walks, and fine at puttering about on a bicycle on a lovely day.  But grunting away with weights?  Not so much.  So that I wanted to do.

Second, I'd started to chafe at my evening pattern of having a couple or three nice india pale ales/glasses of an inexpensive cabernet.  It was a habit, sure, and nothing more than a pleasant thing to go with whatever book I might be reading.  But I realized, at some point in early November, that I couldn't remember the last evening when that hadn't happened.  It seemed too rote, too deeply ingrained.  I committed to significantly reducing my intake.

So there, in November, I had made my decision about resolutions.  I'd do one of these things, come the New Year.  But which one?

After a little prayerful contemplation, I came to the conclusion.  I would do both.  And I would do them immediately.

I wouldn't wait for the new year, because why wait?  Here, two things that I knew I needed to do, two areas of my existence that required some intentionality.  I had already come to the conclusion that I'd like to make the effort, and that the effort was worthy.  Why postpone the good?  There's no good reason to wait to do the right thing.

Not "intend" the right thing.  Intention alone is meaningless.  Sometimes worse than meaningless.

But to actualize that intention, to make it part of the warp and woof of time and space.

That, I think, is the challenge of faith.  It's easy to settle back and wait for precisely the right moment, for the "right time" to act.  It's equally easy to just putter about and wait for the Good Lord to move.  In some things, that's a perfectly fine approach, particularly those things over which we have no agency.

But in so far as the good relies on our hope-fueled intention, there is never any point in waiting.  We need to act, not the day after tomorrow or at some arbitrary moment in our planet's orbit around our G-type star.

Once we have determine what we need to do, the time to do it is now.