[Hpn] The Homeless and New Year's Resolutions

JReynalds@aol.com JReynalds@aol.com
Wed, 27 Dec 2000 19:21:44 EST

From:  Jeremy Reynalds, Joy Junction, Alb., NM.

    Typing in the words "New Year Resolution" into one Internet search engine 
produced an overwhelming 1,587,577 items available for browsing. It seems 
that people take the subject of new year's resolutions seriously, if not the 
actual practice.
     However, the site I really wanted to see, "www.newyearresolution.com" 
(after all, doesn't everything good have a dot-com after its name?!) produced 
a disappointing response that read, "Sorry. No such address. If you clicked 
on a link, you may have found one of the millions of links to Web sites that 
have gone out of business or moved without leaving a forwarding address."
    However, while the "official" web site is no more–like most people's 2000 
resolutions-- the subject of new year's resolutions for 2001 is just 
beginning to crank into high gear. One site, www.tigerx.com, billed the 
following as the most common resolutions. To lose weight, stop smoking, stick 
to a budget, save more money, find a better job, become more organized, 
exercise more, be more patient with others, eat better and finally, become a 
better person.
    While those resolutions sound pretty normal, not surprisingly there were 
a number of more innovative (and satirical) resolutions that I managed to 
unearth. For example. In his "New Year's Devolutions" column, writer Travis 
Rector had some unique ideas. His philosophy, he wrote, is not to set his 
sights too high. By sticking firmly to that creedo, he has always been able 
to honor his New Year's resolutions. He wrote, "I resolve to exercise daily 
by ordering the largest bottle of beer I can find and repeatedly lifting up 
the bottle to read the label to see where it is brewed."
    Rector's next resolution was concerning his resolve to save money during 
the upcoming year. He wrote, "I will make monthly bank deposits to my 401(k) 
Retirement Fund, my kid's college fund, my tax account, and my Christmas 
Club, leaving nothing for me to live on from day to day, but leaving me in 
great financial shape if I die." 
    But all cynicism aside, is there any point at all in even contemplating, 
let alone making, those infamous New Year's resolutions? After all, aren't we 
just going to break them anyway? ABC News columnist Lee Dye writing on 
abcnews.go.com found that there just might be some purpose, at least if we 
make one or two realistic resolutions. Reporting on a study on new year's 
resolutions conducted mainly over the Internet by psychologists at the 
University of Washington, Dye wrote about some  researchers who found that 63 
percent of the 264 persons they interviewed kept the top resolution on their 
list (in 1997) for at least two months.
    Dye commented, "While admitting that little is known about human behavior 
modification, the researchers came up with some interesting conclusions. 
People who thought about their resolutions for some time were more successful 
than those who came up with them at the last minute. Like after the New 
Year's Eve party." 
    Musician Lil' Kim exemplified the importance of just making one or two 
resolutions and thinking about them for some time. She told America on Line 
that for the coming year she wants, "Mo' money, mo' money, mo' record sales, 
mo' record sales." (She's doing that already, resolution or no resolution!) 
    And then there's always someone who doesn't fit our stereotype of what we 
think as being typical new year's resolutions.  In this case I was reminded 
of singer Vitamin C who when asked what she has planned for the New Year,  
told AOL she wants "to drink three liters of water a day and to take my 
vitamins regularly." 
    Of course, running a shelter for the homeless, I wondered what 
resolutions were on the mind of our guests, so we asked a number of them to 
jot down what they were thinking about. As I read through the list of 
resolutions a few days later, I found no cynicism–just a lot of heartfelt 
desire to be a better person.
    It seems that when you're at the bottom of the social ladder, or close to 
it, that New Year's resolutions are more than just idle wishes carelessly 
discarded on January 2 or soon after.  They become heartfelt expressions of 
desperate people who really want to turn their lives around. And while 
several of our guests expressed some of the more typical desires that you 
might expect from folk staying in a homeless shelter, such as wanting to get 
a home, lose weight, quit smoking and finish school still good, positive 
goals), there were some resolutions that maybe you wouldn't have anticipated.
    One person wrote that she wanted to love her new husband-to- be. "He is 
the best," she wrote. Another said that she wanted "to do good and right 
toward my husband, daughters and granddaughter and to the Lord." Others wrote 
that they wanted to "obey the Lord more and do His will," "start going to 
church every Sunday, praying more and reading the Word of God everyday." 
Somebody else wrote that he wanted help "not to spend my money on foolish 
things, but to buy a home we can settle into and worship the Lord more 
honestly and faithfully." 
    Unlike the thoughts of Lil' Kim or Vitamin C, the new year's resolutions 
penned by the guests staying at Joy Junction will probably never find their 
way onto America on Line. But maybe Albuquerque, America and the world would 
be a better place if we paid as much attention to new year's resolutions 
penned by the homeless as we do to the self-aggrandizing pronouncements of 
our culture's ego-driven musical divas.