THERE IS ALWAYS some looking back when a new year arrives.
After perusing columns written for other New Year’s, this one stood out.
I enjoyed rereading it.
I hope you will too.
“Thirty-two years ago, when this column was born, if someone had asked what I would be writing about for the year 2000, I probably would have questioned my seeing the end of this century.
“It is impossible to reach any milestone without looking back, but too much looking back is a sign of old age.
“When we begin a new year, it’s time to think about the future.
“That’s why we make New Year’s resolutions.
“Have you made yours?
“We will begin a new century when this one draws to a close one year from now.
“Are we going to greet that century with the same old resolutions, or will we have some exciting new ones?
“It is hard to let go of the past.
“How can a New Year’s resolution list be written if it doesn’t include: 1) I will lose (?) pounds. 2) I will clean out all the cupboards and closets. 3) I will conquer the piles of mail covering the counters and desk.
“These resolutions land on my list every year, but so do others I am loathe to let go.
“4) I will add more birds to my North American Life List. 5) I will read more. 6) I will spend more time with those I love. 7) I will spend more time outdoors.
“These are resolutions I can make, knowing I will keep them.
“The others are just ‘shoulding’ on myself.
“I ‘should’ do the first three, but I want to do the last four.
“Those resolutions belong to the 20th century.
“Some I will either master this year or drop them forever.
“Some I will carry into the next century.
“Next Jan. 1, I hope I will have some new resolutions that will be a bit more exciting than the ones I’ve struggled with for too many years.
“That is my one new resolution for this year.
“I’m going to be looking forward, seeking out goals and challenges that will be new and exciting. (And I don’t mean trying skydiving or bungie-jumping.)
“Determining my New Year’s resolutions for the 21st century calls for some hard studying.
“So, I am going to do what I said we shouldn’t do.
“I’m going to do some looking back.
“I’m going to study as much of this past century as I can because there is much to learn from it, from the lives of the individuals who shaped it.
“One of those individuals was Roger Tory Peterson.
“This name might not be well known to most of the world, but in the world of birdwatching and bird watchers, it represents the evolution of birdwatching in the 20th century.
“Peterson’s simple but ingenious field guide identification system revolutionized birdwatching.
“What he put into print for the layman set the standard for generations of birdwatchers.
“There are hundreds of individuals like Peterson.
“They touched our lives and in many instances changed them.
“Before I draw up resolutions for the 21st century, I want to study the lives of some of these people.
“The greatest challenge will be choosing the books best suited for the task.
“The first one has been chosen.
“It is, ‘American Greats,’ edited by Robert A. Wilson and Stanley Marcus.
“It is a collection of essays I am looking forward to not only reading, but being inspired by.
“One is about John James Audubon.
“It is about the task he devoted many years of his life to, painting all of the birds of North America — life-size.
“That’s no small task when you include flamingoes and whooping cranes.
“Our New Year’s resolutions should inspire us.
“I’m looking for that inspiration by reading these essays and choosing other similar books to read.
“Only if we want to keep our resolutions, will we keep them and in doing so, add something special to our lives.
“Now it’s on to 2000 and getting ready for the next century.
“We can only wonder at what changes this year will bring — to the world and to our lives.
“Exciting to think about, but scary too.
“Happy New Year.”
And, once again — Happy New Year and on to 2018.
Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: [email protected]