Tradition is a complicated concept in human society, used often to justify some of our most barbaric and insane actions. It’s often said that the most meaningful and powerful advances in our culture come when people openly flaunt tradition, but it could also be argued that many of our most precious ideas are the culmination rather than the antithesis of our oldest traditions.
I take traditions on a case-by-case basis. When it comes to the beginning of a new calendar year I recognize that the Gregorian calendar is a arbitrary tradition and is by no means universal. The beginning of a new year on January 1st makes only as much sense to human perceptions of time as we decide it does and holds absolutely no water when you think about time as a universal concept.
It should come as no surprise that I am frustrated and disgusted by the tradition of getting drunker than usual on New Year’s Eve, and often find myself either staying home to avoid the revelry or going out and trying to force myself to enjoy it which almost always fails.
However I do wholeheartedly embrace the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions, its questionable effectiveness notwithstanding. Scientists who specialize in answering questions like this have found a dismal success rate among people making resolutions for the new year, and on a anecdotal level my own personal success has been found wanting. For my own amusement and also to hold myself to my goals I’ve started a tradition of my own called “Past Year’s Accountability” wherein I document my success rate with the previous year’s resolutions. Last year my success rate was 6.5/15 or just over 43% success. Let’s take a look back at 2010 and see if I did any better this year.
Once again this years resolutions were written and revised between mid-December of last year and the first week of January this year. After the first week of the year they were unalterable. This is the list as it was written a year ago.
1. Get two stripes on my white belt.
Training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was just becoming a big part of my life at the end of 2009 and so I made a commitment to get halfway toward a blue belt by the end of 2010. I received my first stripe on my belt in March of 2010 but as my training became inconsistent I never received a second stripe. The math is simple here, one stripe outta two counts for half credit.
2. Visit Hawaii.
2010 was a dismal year for travel plans, I couldn’t seem to make ends meet no matter how hard I tried and so almost all discretionary spending was frozen for the year. I went to Philadelphia in January and after that I never went outside of Virginia. This was a resounding failure.
3. Tattoo my neck.
Getting tattooed was another victim of my tightened finances in 2010. I didn’t get my neck tattooed, but I did get a small tattoo behind my ear. It’s technically on my head but I’m gonna be generous and give myself half credit for this resolution since it’s still a very visible tattoo and I only didn’t follow through on account of money.
4. Go back to VCU, change major to journalism.
I didn’t go back to school this year, once again mostly – but not entirely – because of money. My fascination with being a journalism major only lasted about a month or two. If I went back to school now I wouldn’t go into MassComm at all. No credit for this resolution.
5. Blog consistently all year.
I got a job blogging about Animal Rights in May of this year and in addition to writing professionally I posted 16 new SIAGT entries this year. I think this resolution deserves full credit.
6. Publish book of my dad’s writing/photographs.
I have a bunch of my dad’s photographs and writing laying around that I plan to eventually compile and edit and publish, mostly for the benefit of myself and my family. I did spend a few days organizing the film and photographs into sleeves and binders but I never got around to really publishing them. This resolution could have earned half credit with a week’s worth of additional effort but sadly I didn’t do it. No credit.
7. Finish sleeving both my arms.
As mentioned above, I didn’t have much money to get tattooed for most of the year. I did however outline a huge piece on my left arm at the end of the year, finally closing up the last big gap on my arms. This resolution gets half credit.
8. Visit Africa/South America.
Never made it off the East Coast all year, no credit.
9. Perform in a Shakespeare play.
I auditioned and was cast in a play that involved Shakespeare and was being performed by the local Shakespeare company but I couldn’t actually perform due to my work schedule. I’m gonna give myself half credit for landing a part even though I couldn’t follow through.
10. Compete in six BJJ competitions.
I only competed in two competitions, one in Philadelphia in January and one in Richmond in February. I registered for a third in March but couldn’t make it due to transportation issues. Given that the one competition I missed wasn’t due to laziness on my part and since the fights I had at the competitions I did attend were very good I will give myself half credit for this.
11. Fight a celebrity.
The best-case scenario for this resolution would have been an encounter with my nemesis Travis Barker and fucking his world up before being arrested/smashed by bouncers. Sadly this didn’t come to fruition, I was only in one fight all of 2010 and it was not with a celebrity in any sense of the word. No credit.
12. Get married/Get marriage annulled.
I had originally planned on following through with a plan to fly to Vegas and get a joke marriage to a friend. I found a very attractive woman willing to go through with it but once again my finances kept me from following through with it. No credit on this one either.
So overall my success score is 3.5/12 or just over 29% success. That is a pretty sad dropoff from last year’s success rate of just over 43%. My resolutions for 2011 will definitely require less money since that seemed to be the downfall of a lot of my 2010 resolutions.
Additionally one of my resolutions for 2011 is to do better on my resolutions than I did in 2010. I’ll be checking back in at the end of 2011 to let you know how I did with my resolutions for next year.