Last year, I made a point of not making any resolutions as 2021 ticked around.
But interestingly, not making any resolutions was a resolution I didn’t stick to. Asked again and again by people trying to make polite conversation, I finally blurted – after a particularly self important speech about self-improvement from the person asking me – that I was going to watch ‘Murder, She Wrote’.
Yes, that one.
Yes, the much-memed 1980s crime show starring Angela Lansbury.
And actually, it was so much better for me than all the years I’ve tried to do something to better myself that I thought I’d mention it here.
As with the person who seeded the idea, there’s this fallacy that a new year requires a ‘new me’ – as if the person we’ve been for the last twelve months is a skin we can shed. But we can’t – we take our experiences with us, and if we’re serious about improving, then we learn from them.
Both the good and the bad.
I chose a TV show to watch because it’s something I almost never do. I’ve got nothing against television, for the record – I just don’t ever feel like I can commit to epic seven-season stories, with 20+ hour-long episodes per season. I honestly barely feel able to commit to a film. That each episode of ‘Murder, She Wrote’ is entirely self contained made it feel less onerous.
I also wanted something old, familiar, and friendly. I know, I know – murder does not equal friendly. But my memories of the show are sick-days from school, curled up on brown velour sofas, stuffing my puffy face with Heinz tomato soup. Associatively, it felt safe.
Mostly, I wanted something I knew I would enjoy. It’s so easy to get swept up in the duty of improvement, in the work we do on ourselves, that we neglect the fact that pleasure can make us better people too.
Let me repeat that: Doing something that feels good can help us to do good.
This is the permission, if you need it, to put aside all the things you feel that you ‘have’ to do – whether that’s getting into shape, eating better, or decluttering – in favour of doing something you want but never allocate yourself time for.
Because I have learnt at least as much from watching a TV show about an old woman ignoring authority, misogyny, and agism, as I have from reading countless tomes on feminism.
So though my own ambition this year is slightly different – and I’ll discuss that soon – I would like to invite you to join me in doing something over the next twelve months because you want to, and because it feels good.
Pleasure in what’s already there is one of the biggest acts of rebellion against this consumerist society of ‘not-enough’ that we have.