I’ve never been one to make a lot of New Year’s resolutions. I usually don’t make them at all. I don’t think that it’s the only time or the best time to change—each day’s a new day and there’s ample time to reevaluate and self-reflect. But at each new year’s beginning, I do tend to think about how things have changed (or not) in the past year. Although I know and firmly believe that mistakes are a part of life and part of what makes us human, I think there’s always one big thing that weaves in and out of the things that I wish could have been different.
My New Year’s resolution, if any, is to be reckless.
And perhaps I should clarify that definition. I’m thinking of something more akin to bravery than foolishness, even though that’s often the primary dictionary definition. I'm thinking of a kind of bravery that disregards self-preservation.
Don't get me wrong--I am one of the last people you would probably label as impulsive or heedless; I am a very analytical person when it comes to deciding how to act. And I think that's important--you can't completely disregard how your actions affect people.
But I think too often, "practical" solutions--in lifestyle, in career decisions, in friendships and relationships--are too closely tied to self-preservation. We're human. We like to keep ourselves if not always comfortable, at least with some foreseeable end to the discomfort. But that makes a lot of important things fall flat. Is volunteering bypassed because there's just not time? Is an extra shift at work taken instead of spending time with the friend who's had a very long week? Are career decisions based solely on security and comfort?
These aren't bad things. But they tend to eclipse the efficacy of any good intentions.
I think recklessness has a place in how one lives one's life. Ernest Hemingway said that "When you love you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve." I think disregarding one's personal safety to more fully love or help someone else is something that ought to sought after more intentionally. It can be shown in large ways--choosing to take a poorly-paying in order to better serve others in the community or one's own circle, maybe here or in a different community. But it can be shown in everyday ways too--letting the dishes slide again or taking extra time to spend with a friend.
Recklessness is not (always) self-serving. In fact, perhaps it's really the best way to describe the self-sacrificing love that we should all live.