A New Year’s resolution

Into each life some rain must fall. It does. Sometimes it pours. We dry ourselves off and step into a new, drier day.

Who among us hasn’t played a losing inning or two in the game of romance? Who has not failed in their judgment of others, in an expectation, in the validity of a conception or of an idea?

After living a while we learn how all this works and though we seldom become professional grade — we learn to cope. But coping skills have to be learned. Consider this example of a youthful training trauma:

Opening a package containing the Superman or Superwoman outfit you ordered only to discover its warning label: “Wearing this garment does NOT enable you to fly.” How did you handle that?

What coping skills did you employ when you learned there was no tooth fairy; that the book you ordered showing how to “throw your voice” didn’t; when you learned yellow snipe don’t pay 50 cents each; when your attempts to see the refrigerator’s light go out when you closed its door consistently failed?

My friend John and I ordered shiny ornate daggers built by “old world craftsmen” for 99 cents each. A test throw against a dead log produced a disappointment I should have anticipated but didn’t. My friend Jim remembers his disappointment when he discovered his new baking soda powered submarine didn’t create the powerful bathtub wake the picture showed. John was disappointed the Remote Controlled Monster Ghost he ordered turned out to be a face painted on a balloon tied to a length of fishing line.

My “favorite” disappointment is Dave’s money rolling machine. A young Dave saw an ad showing a dollar bill emerging from a hand cranked rolling machine but failed to read the small print. What he discovered, to his substantial lifelong edification, was that in order for the machine to roll out a dollar bill — first he had to put a dollar bill in.

The road to knowledge can be rough.

Henry James once observed:

” … the only way to know is to have lived and loved and cursed and floundered, enjoyed, and suffered. “

We do.

We survive the floundering, do our share of adolescent suffering, and usually manage fairly well the more formidable challenges of our adult years. Until we arrive, with age, at a perspective that reveals those challenges most difficult to overcome: our disappointments in ourselves.

Benjamin Disraeli described it this way:” Youth Is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret.” Mark Twain opined: “A man can not be comfortable without his own approval.”

The Roman philosopher Seneca is reported to have concluded his reflections on his misdeeds of each day by remarking to himself: “This time I pardon you.”

Here’s a more permanent fix, a poem of approval despite regrets. A New Year’s, “Resolution of acceptance.”


Recently I was able to obtain an acceptance — of myself.

Picked it up cheap.

It was resting on a realization that closing time

was coming.

Marked down for a quick sale

before it wouldn’t secure

any price at all.

So I scooped it up,

tried it on for size.

It felt nice.

I never thought I’d get one at any price.

At first I tried to store it

out of sight — away;

so people wouldn’t see it.

I believed it best to conceal it,

thought it presumptuous to reveal it.

After all –

Who am I to say?

But I’ve been so pleased to have it —

it’s such a comfort to posses it —

that I have resolved to wear it,

Every day.

Doug Pugh 2016

Happy New Year.