Jean Chamberlain Froese
(The Hamilton Spectator, Saturday, January 7, 2023)
I’m taking my New Year’s resolutions very seriously right now. Very seriously. This far into January. This is remarkable because I’ve usually broken them by lunch on New Year’s Day. This year is different, people. My resolutions are realistic. They’re attainable. Doable. Within grasp.
For example, I’ve resolved to hit the beach more often. Granted, in winter this can be a bit frosty on the swimming trunks. But getting a different perspective on life is especially important for anyone in my line of work, so for 2023 I’ve resolved to visit the beach and stand on my head for 12 hours every day.
The other 12 hours I’ll watch television. This is important for the children because TV, now, encourages family togetherness. I’d like to also encourage my teens, like people everywhere, really, to stop eating, sleeping, and sitting on the toilet with their phones. (Apparently you never know who might want your attention. Or when.)
A stranger recently texted me: “Hi mom. My phone is ruined. I dropped it in the toilet by accident. Save this as my new number and text me on WhatsApp.” Is it a scam? Maybe. Even so, the toilet isn’t the worst place for some people’s phones. So I responded, “Honey, I’m sorry.” That was a week later. I was busy watching TV, you know?
In 2023 I’ve also resolved to stop reading about Donald Trump. Because reading about Trump makes me feel like I’m a drunk needing just one more swig, a hopeless rubbernecker who needs just one more look at the horrible crash. It just cheapens my entire day.
On the other hand, should I still stay informed? Because some very bright people believe if Trump 2.0 later returns to Washington, then – when Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Mars, Neptune and Uranus align – Earth will stop spinning and we’ll all fall off. I mean, good grief. The emperor with no clothes (sorry for that image), striking again?
The International Narcissists Society would certainly have its day in the sun. This is heartwarming because we need more narcissists in our workplaces and families and society at large, more people living in fantasy worlds, exploiting others, playing the victim, and, certainly, if possible, governing world affairs. Right Vladimir?
In either case, in 2023 I’ve resolved to tell the truth. Everyday. Always. Now I know what you’re thinking. There’s my truth and there’s your truth and it’s all relative, this slippery business of truthiness. I see it all like well-crafted literary fiction, which, funny enough, can pack more truth than the world’s most common expression, which is, “I’m on my way now!”
To this end, in 2023 I resolve to read “The Liar.” This is a fine story by Tobias Wolff. It’s about, of course, a liar. I’ll read it at the beach. Standing on my head. I’ll need a new hat, though, because I easily lose hats, recently losing a favourite driver’s cap I had picked up while riding a 5,000-tonne yellow polka-dotted wild elephant along a winding bush road near Istanbul.
Finally, speaking of lies, let’s not forget Canada’s government. In 2023, as usual, I will listen to Ottawa’s travel advice. Truly, all hats off to the Ministry of Don’t Even Think About Going There. Once again, it has issued clear and helpful online guidance for Canadians to naval gaze and stay away from most of the world’s 8 billion people.
Down the highway you can be a quiet homeless man, my age, and get swarmed and killed for no reason by a gaggle of teenage girls. But don’t fly off to, say, East Africa, where Ottawa warns that you might be car-jacked, robbed by bandits, blown-up by terrorists, and then infected with Ebola. If you do go, just avoid all cafés, restaurants, malls, streets, buildings and, naturally, people.
I’m on my way now. Happy New Year. Stay warm. And, please, do smile when you can.