Unless you feel perversly compelled to follow the questionable-if-novel advice of our counter-intuitive columnist Daedalus Howell, we’d like to suggest some slightly more practical, productive and emminently achievable New Year’s resolutions.
So forget dieting, reorganizing or becoming fluent in a second language.
For 2012, here are a dozen decisions you can make without a physical or moral makeover. The ideas come from all over. Do one a month for a series of minor transformations and potentially-surprising discoveries. Results may vary.
1. Spend a week noticeing how violence shows up in your life – on TV, in movies, in games, in your car, in all the things you see and hear and read, in all the images and impressions you and your family members are exposed to. Make a list and review it periodically.
2. Find someone in your neighborhood, your office, your life, whom you don’t know and introduce yourself.
3. Pick a subject – guns, abortion, government spending, accordion music, plaid blazers, pit bulls, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Wayne LaPierre, anything or anyone – about which you have very strong opinions, and research the opposite point of view for two hours online.
4. Whether you have school-age children or not, go to two meetings of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s board of directors sometime during the year. Ask them at least one question.
5. Pick a school and visit a classroom, even if you don’t have kids in class. Call a principal first to arrange it.
6. Read the online agenda, or read the pre-meeting story in the Index-Tribune, and then go to a Sonoma City Council meeting at least once this year. The schedules and agendas appear in the Index-Tribune and can be found at sonomacity.org. For this exercise. watching it on TV doesn’t count.
7. Choose a cause – any nonprofit cause – learn what you can about it and decide how much time, money and energy you can give to it for one year – even if it’s only an hour a month. Then schedule that commitment on your calendar.
8. Make a list of the things you shop for outside Sonoma and then explore if and where you can get those things in the Valley.
9. Take a three-mile walk through some part of Sonoma and the surrounding Valley you’ve never walked through before. Driving there doesn’t count.
10. Think about a subject that concerns you, conduct your own research, then write a letter to the editor (up to 250 words), or a longer op-ed piece (up to 500 words), attache your name, address and phone number (contact information isn’t published but we need it for authentication) and deliver it by email, snail mail or in person.
11. Turn your TV off for 24 hours and rediscover the sound of silence. But be realistic. Don’t plan it during the NFL, NBA or MLB playoffs, the Academy Awards or whatever other programming you’re addicted to.
12. Finally, make a list of what you’re thankful for and read it once a week, every week, for a year, keeping it current as time goes by.
And have a happy New Year.