It’s the time of year for making New Year’s Resolutions. Promises to one’s self that are invariably broken before the first crocuses and snow drops push up from the Earth at Imbolc.
This year, as I consider once more resolutions and people around me talk of their hopes for the coming year, I have been looking more closely at what resolution actually means and where the word comes from:
late 14c., “a breaking into parts,” from Old French resolution (14c.) or directly from Latin resolutionem (nominative resolutio) “process of reducing things into simpler forms,” from past participle stem of resolvere “loosen”. Sense of “a solving” (as of mathematical problems) first recorded 1540s, as is that of “power of holding firmly”. Sense of “decision or expression of a meeting” is from c. 1600. Meaning “effect of an optical instrument” is from 1860. New Year’s resolution in reference to a specific intention to better oneself is from at least the 1780s, and through 19c. they generally were of a pious nature.
When we think of a resolution here, we are thinking about a firm decision or a personal promise. Far from being the trivial thing that resolutions have become, a resolution was originally a solemn vow, made between one’s self and possibly one’s Deity.
Perhaps this explains why I have such trouble with making a New Year’s Resolution, and steer clear of the whole idea. An oath between a person and their Deity is not a trivial matter to be forgotten before the wheel has turned even a quarter of the way round the world.
Simply put, when I go to sit with my Gods in the coming year, I do not want to have to explain to them why I made promises to Them that I wasn’t willing or able to keep.
I have time yet to consider what vows I might make for 2017. As I write this today the New Year is still over a week away. It won’t be a trivial matter for me as I welcome in the New Year.
I shall think long and hard on what oaths I would swear to my Gods. What promises I might make in this coming year. And I will make sure that they are promises that I can keep.