I took a little hiatus from writing anything right before Christmas. That’s the best part about having your own little corner of the internet– you don’t have to really show up if you don’t want to. But I didn’t mean to neglect you, my sweet blog friends, so for that I am sorry.
One of the things that happened while I was away was a death in my family. And it’s true what they say about death putting things into sharp focus. Death demands pause, demands reflection, and, surprisingly, demands a sense of humor. Given these demands, if you had to pick a time to experience death, the timing around setting New Year’s Resolutions is ideal. Tell everyone you know to just try and make their worldly exits around the New Year– make sure they avoid Christmas, though, because that’s a big bummer. (That is a joke. Sense of humor, remember?)
Anyway, I was running around the reservoir in Central Park the other day thinking about death (as one does) and my late grandfather, who also enjoyed running. Actually that sentence is misleading– I do not enjoy running, but he did! As I was plodding along miserably, someone passed me. And then someone else did, too. And then someone else.
At first, I did what almost every one of you would do in this situation. I immediately started being a huge bitch to myself and saying all kinds of mean things. I’m too slow, I’m not a good runner, I’ll never run that fast.
And then I remembered something: who cares?
I’m sure you’ve heard something like this before– it’s the same idea as all of that schmaltzy “dance like no one’s watching” crap you’d find on a magnet at Cracker Barrel. But in the context of death, this idea of “who cares?” felt a little more practical. At my funeral, no one will say, “Well, she was a pretty good person, but she did get passed several times around that reservoir running trail…” Conversely no one is going to comment on how many people I passed that day. Or ever.
The point is, I was spending energy getting worked up about something that doesn’t matter. I know this seems obvious to you while you’re reading it, but it’s not always so easy to see when we are too busy being mean to ourselves about not achieving something that is, in the end, totally inconsequential.
It was at that moment that I decided: I am no longer getting worked up about things that no one is going to even mention at my New Year’s Eve funeral (you’re welcome in advance for my timely death). Instead, I think I’ll try and spend my energy on things people will remember about me.
Being skinny? Not mentioned at funerals.
Having zero wrinkles? No.
Being the slowest person jogging around the Reservoir? Nope.
A lot of people say that resolutions don’t make a lot of sense, and personally I’m not a proponent of changing something in your life just because it’s January. However, if you’re into making a resolution, I’d encourage you to see if it passes the Funeral Test. If people wouldn’t mention it at your funeral, really think about whether or not it makes sense to put so much energy into it. Losing six pounds may not be the thing that does it, unless of course you’re considering weight loss to avoid your funeral, in which case resolve away!
Even if you’re not making a resolution, see how often you give yourself a hard time over something that wouldn’t pass the Funeral Test and try to let it go. I’m not good at this. But I have found the exercise illuminating– there are so many things I keep score on that won’t even show up in my final stats in the end.
But just for the record: I did pass six people.