Of the many things in life that I enjoy, two of them intersected in an unusual way this week: New Year’s resolutions and Louis C.K. I know New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap and may not even be that helpful for certain things like losing weight or learning a new language. But there is something infinitely optimistic about the blank slate of a new year, unblemished by reality and loss of willpower. I like those first few days of January when it all seems doable.
But the real power of the new year is the idea of getting closer to the person I think I could be. A very good friend of mine and I have been emailing about our goals and we even talked about crowdsourcing 2017 goals amongst friends, giving us a chance to suggest goals for each other. It’s been very interesting, and I’m definitely taking some on board. One I’ll share is to do 12,000 pushups and 12,000 situps in 2017. That seems like a lot (though my brother completed twice that last year!) but when I think about 1000/month, 250 a week, 50 a day for five days, then I think I could make that happen. So far, so good.
So as I’m feeling good about the chance to become a better me, I watched this clip
(definitely some swearing) from Louis C.K., and it really struck a chord. He is, far and away, my favorite comedian. I’ve watched all his specials and could not get enough of his genius “Horace and Pete” series. In this short clip, he says something which seems a little simplistic on the surface “Most people are okay, as long as they’re okay” but I also think it reflects the deeper truth that most people are good as long as they’re safe and comfortable. As long as they’re not in a situation where the thin veneer of civilization is torn, as it often is while we’re driving (the subject of this part of his comedy routine.) I laughed, but like the best comedians, I laughed a little uncomfortably when I thought about my own driving behavior.
It is so/too easy to believe we’re good. Our intentions often are. So are many of our acts. But can I maintain that when the going gets tough? When I’m stressed? How about when my kids haven’t eaten for a day? When I’m behind on my bills and they turned off my electricity? If my belief in my goodness can be trashed so easily when I get behind the wheel, for example, the question of “what am I capable of” isn’t as idle as it seems.
I cannot know myself, fully, unless I continually push the edge of what I know, where I’m not sure how I’ll act and react. In the end, that’s what setting new goals are all about for me: who do I want to be and am I willing to walk through the uncertainty and pain of becoming? What am I capable of is also about the possibility of the impact I can have so the question is a profound one, and not only when someone swerves into my lane at 70 mph. It’s one I should be asking myself every day and hope you will too.