So you resolved to lose ten pounds this year. But how do those ten pounds feel about that? I mean, right now those ten pounds are as much a part of you as the other hundred and let’s not mention how many other pounds you’re planning on keeping around all year long.
Really what you’re resolving is not any different from what heartless corporations do every day. You’re planning to downsize those ten pounds. You’re going to send them out into the street with nothing but a cardboard box full of the meager possessions from their desk. The framed photograph of the triple-decker cheeseburger and its platter of baby onion rings, the 2-for-1 pizza coupons, take-out menus of every restaurant that does late-night deliveries, and that plaque for winning the pie-eating contest at the 4th of July picnic. You want to fire those ten pounds and send them out to find a place on someone else’s hips and thighs.
But what if they can’t do it? What happens when the food runs out? They won’t have a mouth to feed them anymore. They won’t have a refrigerator full of leftover Chinese and that incredible mac and cheese casserole that Aunt Margaret dropped off. All their co-workers will go on without them, those hard-working, efficient blood cells, and lean organs like the liver, and kidneys, and spleen. Your heart muscle will go on pumping as hard as ever, well, maybe not quite as hard, since it’ll have ten less pounds of, let’s face it, fat, to have to pump blood through. So getting rid of this deadbeat dead-weight will make life much easier for the rest of yourself.
But those ten pounds will be out on the street, with nothing to support them. No brain to supply them with hunger pangs, no eyeballs to look at all the latest fast food commercials on TV, no legs to waddle them over to the nearest Burger Barn for a chocolaty, thick shake and order of fries.
Who’s going to want a load of middle-aged fat? There just isn’t any place for it anymore. People are slimming down, joining the health club, going to spas. Fat is getting laid off left and right and any new openings are going to fresh fat: hot corned beef from the World’s Best Deli, shiny new bags of snack food, nuts, chips, cookies and cakes. That old fat is just going to get left behind, thrown on the hips of history.
So when you make that resolution to lose ten pounds, it’s no wonder that you have mixed feelings about it. There is this huge part of you — or at least it looks huge in the mirror, especially those three-way mirrors where you can really get a gander at it from behind — that doesn’t want to go. It wants to stay with you always, and maybe even expand, invite in some friends to keep it company.
How about the other resolutions you’re thinking about? “I resolve to be more sober, to be more self-reliant, to be a better person than I am, than I ever was.” This is insulting to yourself, all these sorts of resolutions. You are saying to yourself, “Self, you suck! You’re just not good enough. I don’t think you’ve ever been good enough, but maybe, if you try really hard, if you sacrifice everything you enjoy, all the wine, and smokes, and chocolates, and late-night trashy novels, and TV binges, and people you shouldn’t go out with because they’re beneath you. Yeah, just give all that up for the rest of your life and then maybe you’ll finally be the kind of person that you always imagined you could be.”
Oh good god! This is just a set-up for disappointment. It’s kind of like asking a billionaire if he’s got enough money. The reason he got to be a billionaire in the first place is because when he was only a millionaire he didn’t think he had enough money. Then when he got to be a hundred-millionaire he didn’t think he had enough money. He’ll never think that he’s got enough money. He’ll probably be looking up from hell someday, trying to keep track of how much he’d still be worth, if his heirs hadn’t squandered his estate having a good time.
Your everlastingly self-improving self is the same way. It’s never going to be satisfied with who you are and how you’re doing. It’s always going to be resolving to do better than before. It’s never going to say, “This year I resolve to make less money. This year I resolve to trade in my brand new Tesla Electric sports car for a ten-year- old slightly dented Honda minivan. This year I’m going to dump my extremely hot girlfriend and try to get a date with that spinster schoolteacher who lives down the block who I occasionally see in the backyard trying to murder crows.”
So just forget all those self-improving resolutions. Here’s a different resolution you can try on: “I resolve to find a reason to be happy with my life every day of the year. I resolve to smile and laugh, and spend as much time as I can hanging out with the people I love. I resolve to stop trying to be a better person, and just enjoy the person that I already am.”
Those extra ten pounds you’re carrying around will do everything they can to support these resolutions. They may even turn themselves into muscle laughing so hard at all your new-found happiness.