On December 26, 2018

Resolving to change

By Dom Cioffi

The New Year is upon us and with it comes the inevitable pressure to make an annual resolution.

This is the time of year when smokers vow to quit (or at least cut back), foodies resolve to lose weight (or at least eat healthier), and couch potatoes decide to get in shape (or at least use the stairs instead of the elevator).

Personally, I’ve wavered on the idea of New Year’s resolutions throughout my life.

As a teenager, I felt it necessary to give up something I considered negative whenever January 1 rolled around, like cutting out sugary cereals or my favorite candy bars. During my 20s, my resolutions centered around partying less. Unfortunately, these approaches normally resulted in a complete breakdown within a few weeks.

Later in life I switched my resolution-making to adding something positive. I found this approach a little easier to stick with. This is how I began jogging and reading classic novels. However, even with the best intentions, these positive additions to my life only lasted until early summer at the best, and then interest always seems to wane.

The one time I did keep a resolution from January 1 to December 31 happened about 15 years ago when I resolved to keep a diary. I had attempted to keep a diary many times in my life, but always confronted the “several missed days” phenomenon. This led to blank pages, which then led to lack of interest, which then led to completely disregarding the idea.

Anyone who has kept a diary knows how this works. You start out gung-ho, writing down the days’ events with ferocious detail. Then, as you begin to bore with your mundane lifestyle, you morph your journal into a sort of philosophical manifesto. Eventually you expound on every subject you deem important and are left with little more to say. This usually occurs about mid-February.

Knowing this, I decided to take a different approach to my journaling.

On the year that I made it 365 days, I tried to take the pressure off by resolving to make a daily entry that simply represented how that day went. This entry could be a few simple sentences or a picture that reflected something I did that day. If I felt like writing more, I would, but I didn’t force myself to recollect a page worth of details.

I dug this diary out recently and flipped through the pages. More than three quarters of the entries were sketches, some of me doing things like golfing or playing basketball, others of having dinner with friends or celebrating holidays.

While I have been a doodler throughout my life, many of the drawings were far from accomplished. But they always represented the day’s events coherently so I knew what I had been up to.

However, the most amazing thing about this catalog of activities was how so many of the pages reminded me of the actual event. I would no sooner look at a sketch of an Easter celebration at my grandmother’s house where my older brother ran into a tree during a flag football game when the actual memory came flooding back.

Our brains are amazing organs and apparently have the capacity to hold all of our memories intact – even if they are located in the deepest recesses of this giant muscle. The trick is jogging the memory loose so we can enjoy it again. My little sketchbook did that beautifully.

So, as another year begins to take shape, I am once again considering what positive addition I can institute into my life. I’m less motivated these days so I doubt I’ll undertake the diary resolution, but I am fast at work trying to come up with ways that I can better the world around me.

The main character in this week’s feature resolved to right some wrongs that he committed in his younger years. Now an ageing 90-year-old man at the end of his life, he decides to use his unique position to run drugs for a powerful cartel.

Directed and starring Clint Eastwood with support from Bradley Cooper, “The Mule” is another intense drama from a true cinematic legend. This is Clint Eastwood’s 41st directorial offering and while it may not rank as one of his best, it still contains enough tension and intrigue to make it a worthwhile endeavor.

If you love a good story told with grit and flavor, give this one a shot. There’s an appeal to Clint Eastwood films that never seems to fade and this one does nothing to change that.

A “B-” for “The Mule.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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