I love to write columns about the holidays. Celebrating the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving or other special days throughout the year, those things sing to my heart.
Right in there is the New Year’s column, looking at resolutions that might move me and perhaps you, too, into the next year. It’s the time to think about what transpired during the past year that I might improve on as the calendar turns.
Hmm, well, I kind of think this year is just a teeny bit different than any other year I have experienced. I bet most of you think the same way.
What happened to 2020? It started out just fine, or at least it appeared to be just fine, and then the pandemic of the century hit with a virus that is continuing to kill people moment by moment.
Top that off with the toxic lies that have circulated undermining how we should all protect ourselves, and add for good measure all the politics – something I stay clear of when I’m writing.
In my mind, health is neither left nor right, moderate nor extreme. Boy, was I wrong. Little did I think wearing a mask would be turned into a political issue. A fashion statement, yes, but linking it to politics seemed rather far-fetched.
Washing your hands after you poop, not spitting on the floor of a restaurant, not having sex in the streets – none of those are political. Wearing a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19 should be the same.
But be that as it may, we are at the end of a strange, unpredictable and unusual year – one that deserves resolutions, as does every year. That’s where I get to dive in with the ones I hope will move me to a healthier, safer time. So let’s get started.
First up, social interactions. I always knew how important they were. When I wrote my book, “The Longevity Code: Your Personal Prescription to a Longer, Sweeter Life,” I postulated there are five spheres that influence our health and wellness: physical, mental, social, spiritual and material.
This year of coronavirus has taught me the social sphere is even more important than ever. So my first resolution is to reach out to people I haven’t seen or talked to for a long time and connect.
The caveat is I hope to do this with some who I know are members of the other political team. When it comes to local politics, garbage pickup, street maintenance, schools, we might have differences, but we still need to talk to one another. Otherwise, nothing gets done.
Unfortunately, there are some close to me, some relatives, who I have disconnected with because we don’t speak the same tribal dialect. So my resolution is to stand by what an old Wisconsin friend told me years ago: At her dinner table, no one discusses religion, politics or sex.
Now on to my next resolution. There are so many suffering more than my family and I are. Yes, we donate time and, yes, we donate money and, yes, we give encouragement. But are we really doing enough? Really enough?
My next resolution is to double-down to figure out ways to make my local community stronger, healthier and more vibrant by supporting those in need. I could do more, and I bet you could do more, too. We could all do more – it’s not just about greenbacks.
We are amazingly charitable people. In 2019, Americans gave more than $425 billion to help each other. And that doesn’t include the in-kind work that groups such as Habitat for Humanity, for example, organize and deploy.
My next resolution is the usual one – to make my body healthier.
I’m resolving to do more in January, February and March, when I’m usually a slug. I resolve to hit the elliptical at least twice a week, and shooting for three days is my ideal.
I’m wearing a FitBit now, so I resolve to hit those 10,000 steps at least six days a week. We really only need about 4,500 to 7,000 a day to stay fit. But why not go for the gold and hit the big 10,000? Not easy on the days we work, believe me.
And my final resolution – this one I think you’re going to like – is to look forward, to plan for the future when we’ll live in a world not necessarily free of COVID-19, but manageable.
As one acknowledgment of that resolution, we’ve purchased tickets in June to go to New York and attend Broadway shows.
You might say that’s overly ambitious, but you can make refundable reservations, from airlines on down, that can be canceled without losing your hard-earned money.
Maybe you should consider that, too.
The world is your oyster. Spring is just around that corner – it’s a long block, I know that – and summer will follow with festivals and festivities.
All of this if we stay masked, stay socially distanced, wash our hands and get immunized when it’s offered.
So the bottom line for 2021 is that I resolve to be hopefully optimistic.
P.S.: Oh, I forgot one thing. The cavalry came. The shots are here. Get yours.
Dr. Zorba Paster is a family physician and host of the public radio program “Zorba Paster on Your Health.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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