New Year's Memo: We're Ending the Madness!

New Year's Memo: We're Ending the Madness!

Last year my children and I resolved to adopt every whale, sponsor all the freeways, and scale Everest in our "spare" time. We planned to take on global correspondences, train for extended marathons and fight tigers with our bare hands.

Alas, it is the New Year and we never so much as brought home ONE underprivileged whale. We couldn't decide which politically correct freeway to adopt and we, embarrassingly, never saw Everest. It doesn't take a management specialist to see our resolutions didn't make their "A game."

This year we're "under-resolving." When philanthropists come asking for millions to build a monument in our names, we'll lower our couch-potato faces and promise to give later. When global leaders appear with strategic theories we'll hide under our beds in abashed underachievement. Our contribution won't likely win us a Nobel Peace prize, an honorary doctorate or even a token bouquet from the local pastor. We're not training tigers on the Amazon, not uncovering rain forests, not deciphering military codes. We're not even changing out last year's cupboard health foods with this year's latest brands. (I'm still not sure if it's carbs/no carbs, protein/no protein, high fiber/low fiber.) Who knows? We might not even change the calendar over from December to January. This year we're "under-resolving."

Our "under-resolve" came by accident. He arrived at a family picnic. D_ _ as we'll call him (we're not name dropping either) is an elderly man. Likely we would have forgotten this senior American, altogether, except, we heard from D _ _'s caregiver: D _ _ looked forward to today for the whole month. D _ _ washed his simple clothes over and over. He laid them on a chair four days before our "excursion" (I use the term loosely) and folded and re-folded them every day. D _ _ put in back-up clothes, checked his watch, checked his cap, loaded and reloaded the film in his five-decade-old camera. He marked the calendar. After it was over D _ _ thanked us again and again.

One look at D _ _'s smile, and we know the whales and freeways are on hold. We're simply clearing a space in our crammed calendars for one VERY lonely elderly man.

We have no hidden agendas, we're not conducting elderly research studies—not charting him on a plan, not getting dialogue cards, or polling, or inflicting theories consciously or unconsciously. We're not even taking him through an entire book. We're just going to be there. We'll eat "non-organic" pizza with him, go to B-league baseball games, and feed the ducks at unassuming parks.

D_ _ doesn't have a senior American poster-plastering face. He isn't special—he has no bank account to cultivate/navigate/investigate (or any type of gate...). He has no social ladder to hoist us in, up, over or through—his only ladder is the one growing moss in his backyard. He won't be charming us with new exotic words or describing Everest. And D _ _ and his motorized scooter likely won't be helping us with the marathons.

One look at D _ _'s face and my boys and I know it is THE RIGHT CHOICE (ouch—those words are badly out of style). The social strategists will never get it, but our rebuttal will be the smile we get.

Don't get us wrong—someday we do want to fight tigers and see Everest. Just not this year, and if and only if there's room for D _ _ and his motorized scooter!

January 01, 2009 / Perspective
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