Regular readers (Hi Dad!) may have noticed that my 2013 predictions post was kind of a downer. It’s true; I don’t foresee a whole lot of sunshine and lollipops this year.
However, I’m an optimistic person by nature, and I’ll be danged (that’s right, “danged”) if I let anybody take that away from me. The crybabies and charlatans and crooks who run the country now can do a lot of damage, but there are still things that they can’t touch, and those are the the things that we need to focus on now.
So herewith are my resolutions–and my recommendations for everybody–for the new year:
— Strengthen relationships: I am an introvert married to an introvert. If we had our way, my wife and I would put queso cheese IV’s in our arms and sit on the couch watching TV forever, or at least until the smell became unbearable. We don’t know our neighbors very well; we have a tight circle of friends that doesn’t really ever change.
We can debate over how healthy it is to be a committed introvert, but the fact is that we can be that way (along with a lot of other Americans) because it’s just so easy to get away with it. You don’t really have to know anyone to get by. You have to know how to get a job and you have to know the address of the nearest Walmart and you’re pretty well set.
But I have a feeling that, in the very near future, knowing people is going to get a lot more important. Having an active and growing social network out in the real world is going to come in handy, if only for moral support. So now’s the time to step out into the sunlight–shading our beady little TV-blanched eyes–and meet some more folks.
— Get healthy: Devote some time to this, seriously. There’s no tax on exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating reasonable portions (The Applebee’s appetizer sampler was originally designed by the military to feed an entire platoon for a week. You knew that, right? The mozzarella sticks will last six weeks under combat conditions.). These things will increase the quality of your life immeasurably. And they may increase the length of it, measurably. The more you can stay out of the health care system, the happier you will be.
— Get good at things: The cost of living is going up, big time, so the more you can do for yourself, the more cash you can keep stashed away in that mason jar you keep in the box in the attic, next to the pile of Fredrick’s of Hollywood catalogs from the 70’s (don’t play dumb with me).
Learn how to maintain your car, and then do it. Learn a little bit about plumbing. Maybe start a little garden. All those things that make you say, “I wish I knew how to do (blank) instead of having to call somebody,” make a point of learning how to do them now. It feels good to be able to take care of yourself, it can save you money, and it might even turn into an extra source of income.
— Firm up your foundation: All the things that you want to have ready for a rainy day, get them ready now. Get out of debt and set up an emergency fund. If you need to do any weatherproofing on your house, do it. Get flashlights, first aid kits, and a little stash of emergency food.
I’m not saying the zombies are coming, but we live in shaky times. An economic collapse, or even a major hiccup, will look a lot like hurricane Sandy: infrastructure down, hard to get essentials, and no help coming, at least for a while. Don’t panic; just act like you live near the coast, and it’s hurricane season.
— Don’t let them drag you down: I have heard people–conservative people, work-ethic type people–say things to the effect of, “If the takers are running things now, then I’m going to start being a taker.” Don’t do that.
The temptation will be great, I know. A lot of money will be made by people who, in a just world, would reach the pinnacle of their careers when they got promoted from cleaning up after the elephants to barking for the bearded lady.
That doesn’t matter. Your soul is at stake, and the souls of your children. They must learn, from your example, that hard work and thrift are always righteous, and theft is always wrong, even when the world says it’s right.
If the takers convince you that the only way to get by is to become a taker, then we are finished. Next thing you know, we all have that dead-eyed look of DMV workers, counting the minutes until retirement and keying the car of the new girl because she got a slightly nicer stapler than you.
Your integrity matters. When everybody says it doesn’t matter, then it matters even more.