Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why I Don't Believe in New Year's Resolutions

“Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be. Every time you don't throw yourself down the stairs, that's a choice. Every time you don't crash your car, you re-enlist."   
-Chuck Palahniuk
I discovered Chuck Palahniuk about five years ago, and I don't remember how. The first book of his I read was Survivor, which I loved, and the quote above was one that has really stuck with me. His writing is definitely an acquired taste, and I know a few of my friends have tried reading his books on my recommendation and not been able to finish even one. He actually wrote Fight Club, the book, which later became a movie, which is why I find it surprising that his writing doesn't seem to be more well-known. We read Choke in my postmodern fiction class, after I'd already read a few of his novels on my own, and that was my least favorite; but reading him in the context of that course helped me understand his writing style a lot better. The only word I can think of to describe it is "gritty". It's not beautiful in an elegant way--it's beautiful because of how it captures reality. He writes about things that we don't like to talk about, in a very harsh way, without skirting any of the gruesome details. He writes about suffering in a way that doesn't sugarcoat it; and I can't think of a single one of his characters who has what would really be considered a happy ending, yet throughout his writing there's this perverse sense of hope--not so much "light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel", but more of just a reminder that humans can endure more than we often think we can.

I've been thinking a lot about why the new year is such a big deal. The last few years I've had very quiet, anti-climactic New Year's Eves, and this year was no different. We went up to visit Josh's grandparents in a little village called Sykehouse, in England, about a five hour drive, and brought in the new year with them, watching the fireworks in London on television. It was relaxing and lovely, and I've realized that a quiet New Year's Eve is more my style because I don't really subscribe to the idea of New Year's resolutions anymore.

Some of my previous New Year's Eves have felt a bit hollow--like something has been missing because I haven't been out there doing something fantastic. But I think the reason I love that Chuck Palahniuk quote so much is because it expresses the idea that change is not on a timeline, and change can happen every day--whether it be a change we choose to make or a change that chooses us. And every day is the chance for something unexpected, and an opportunity to make a change.


  1. I don't make resolutions for that very same reason, and I've never read Chuck. Maybe I should!

  2. I used to ignore New Year's resolutions for this same reason. They felt so forced. This has been the first one in a long time where I drank the kool aid and decided now is as good a time as any to look at what's not working and do better. We'll see!

    1. I saw your caffeine-fueled list and wish you the best of luck! Is there one in particular that you're focusing on more than the others?