Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy New Year or The Value of Regret

I went to the gym today for the first time in weeks. It seems longer. I've been bothered with pain in my shoulders and arms and I thought a workout of some kind -- any kind -- would do me some good, work out the kinks, that sort of thing. And as I marched myself into the place, hopped up on the treadmill and began it occurred to me that this would be a good thing to start up on a regular basis in 2014, a thought that positively reeks of New Year's Resolution.

I gave up making resolutions years ago. I always had the feeling I was setting myself up for failure, somehow. Quit smoking. Cut down on my drinking. Spend less. Save more. Finish that play. You get the idea. As I understand it, the first of the year is always busiest at the gym. January into February gyms are packed with people who've made well-intentioned resolutions to lose those pounds, tone up, slim down. By March things have slowed down as the regulars keep going and the people who made all those well-intentioned resolutions drop like flies. (Please note that I did, eventually quit smoking and cut out drinking altogether, decisions that had nothing to do with January 1.)

And yet the impetus is there, that desire to somehow be... better. Of course, it pays to be rational about it. Looking at Facebook over the holidays I've seen many posts by people who have been spending time with their families, of origin or otherwise. I've seen pictures of happy children under the tree, happy families crowded onto sofas and around dinner tables. I envy them, as my family has grown smaller over the years, as often happens as we grow older, and my impulse is to resolve to get myself a family for the new year, a gurgling baby, an adorable toddler, some aunts and uncles, you get the picture. Not, as they say, bloody likely. Still it looks as though those lives are working out somehow better than mine in some indefinable way.

It is possible that I will, in fact, go to the gym more often this year, or get involved in some kind of theatrical enterprise, my full-time job notwithstanding. Or go back to my painting. And save more. And it occurs to me that I want to do these things because I haven't been doing them even though they mean something to me. I do feel better after I've worked out, even a little. I am, by nature, an artist and the artist in me is getting itchy.

And what's behind, or underneath, this desire to act and, in a perfect world, hire a personal trainer? Apart from everything else, I think there's a modicum of regret. Regret that I didn't exercise more this past year and can therefore not fit as comfortably into my pants as I used to. Regret that I'm working this full-time job and can't be out there auditioning. (Let it be said, however, that without the full-time job I wouldn't have a regular paycheck and rather good benefits, which I've needed, believe me.) Still it's there, the regret. A touch of disappointment in myself. The desire to be the better person I know a more toned physique will make me. (Okay, intellectually I know that's not true, but the Committee in my head keeps trying to tell me it is.)

Don't get me wrong, I don't spend my waking hours bitterly contemplating the rather large chunk of life, represented by the past year, that has passed by, and rather quickly at that. I get up and get on with it and do my best to live a day at a time, taking on only what's in front of me and not trying to figure out all of life's mysteries, joys and disappointments at once. Still those feelings are there. And the regret. And if that's what it takes to get me back to the gym, or to declutter the apartment, or to be more artistic - act, paint, write, something! -- then so be it.

I won't let it overwhelm me. I'll just acknowledge that it's there and move along. Forward. Ahead. Into 2014 and the next phase of life.

Happy New Year to us all!