Ringing it in


New year, new rules.

At least that’s the effort underway in the Glenn household. Like a two-headed Hammurabi, the wife and I convened over the weekend to codify and chisel into visible granite the laws that will govern our people. Perhaps, as in civilizations prior to that of the pioneering 17th century B.C. Babylonian king, there has been confusion among the subject population of this small, Fremont County farmhouse-state as to what behavior and responsibilities are expected and what the immutable consequences might be for those who don’t conform.

Not no more.

There, in vibrant magic marker on a poster board prominently displayed in our version of a high-traffic public space – the kitchen – are boldly proclaimed the legal bases for a more peaceful, unified and constructive society, such as “No Whining”, “Be Nice” and “ Go Potty in the Potty.” Now all we need, also as with those ancient Mesopotamians, is for the governed to very quickly learn how to read.

The rules, actually, aren’t all that new. While continuously evolving to meet the needs of our ever more complex and sophisticated little community inside these four walls, they are well established, I feel, by regular, mind-numbing repetition on what seems like a quarter-hourly required regimen. Dystopian visions of the future frequently feature the Grand Leader’s pre-recorded “reminders” being blared from loudspeakers littered throughout the land…What a timesaver!

Veering slightly, I should note that I’ve never been a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. I understand the compulsion a big calendar flip brings to make big plans for big, positive changes and I feel that same pull myself with the approach of every January the First. Heck, I even use the odd, impending first-of-any-month as a theoretical springboard for starting thing I want to start and stopping things I should have stopped a long time ago.

But, no news flash here, the anticipation and excitement of that first day past my worst last ways has an uncanny habit of habitually waning by the second morning (mourning?) of familiar old practices. Gym memberships skyrocket in early January and so does my unrealistic notion of self-control. Surely, some of you can relate…

Perhaps this is because I’ve never created simple, strong visual cues to help stay the corrected course. College athletic facilities – as well as many of the area high schools I’ve frequented over the years – have placards pasted all over the place that remind players to “Play Like a Champion Today,” “Finish,” “Train Hard” and, for good straightforward measure, “WIN!” Typically, they aren’t poetic, particularly prophetic or enlightening as to how one should strategically ensure said positive outcome, but they are designed to inspire the desire to do so.

I imagine the swirling, swelled subconscious of a high school or college athlete – Exam! Essay! Girlfriend! Party! Car Payment! Ramen! – needing an aesthetic anchor in all-caps to bring focus to the task at hand. However intense a pre-game ritual has taken place, any tunnel walk is a relatively long one and somewhere along that purposeful strut the mind is vulnerable to a’wandrin’…thusly, “WIN!” snaps it all back into resolution at the last possible moment.

Back to the lesson at hand, my young G’s (Glenn, you know) are not exactly storming into battle – or even the athletic metaphor thereof – and a colorful wall chart of my wife’s terse, economical verse is not precisely a rallying cry, but there is a similar psychological directive going on. The world is a complex, confusing place with a million things occurring simultaneously and an infinite arrangement of thoughts on their significance. In the dervish vortex of teenage analysis, or the sponge-hunger of an elementary school brain imbibing every little bit of information it encounters, a posted note or two reinforcing the basics can be a necessary thing.

Even if you have to read it to them…no?