IT’S TIME ONCE again to make our New Year’s resolutions, that annual act of self-delusion that we Americans are particularly good at. (We’re also good at ending sentences with prepositions, which there are a lot of.)
My new approach this year is not to promise better behavior or new experiences, but to simply look back at the mistakes of last year and avoid repeating them. Instead of making grandiose promises that would be impossible to keep—such as saving money or loving my neighbor as myself—I plan to focus like a laser on the stupid things that happened in the past 12 months and suggest a corrective. To wit:
This wonderful nugget of information I discovered about a week after the actual event, which started with the sound of a locomotive passing underneath my office—say what you want about the fiscal uncertainties of Amtrak, at least it keeps its trains out of office buildings—and then my award plaques started falling off the walls. Not all of them, mind you, just the first-place awards. The honorable mentions remained conspicuously in place, silent but painful reminders to fleeing passers-by of my past failures.
Anyway, I fled down the stairs, dodging the elderly and infirm whom I felt had lived sufficiently long and productive lives and didn’t need me to interfere with the hand of fate, on account of I was in a hurry. I was also screaming, with a calm and manly authority.
But it turns out, we were all wrong. We should have huddled beside our desks and waited it out (perhaps using the time to reflect on the mediocrity that led to our honorable mentions). Debris inspections after recent earthquakes have revealed that while desks and cars were often crushed, the area immediately adjacent to them was untouched. That area is called the “triangle of safety,” as has been well documented by photographers at the scene. The lesson here is clear: In the event of an earthquake, you want to be a photographer.
Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.