Friday, December 31, 2010

High resolution…

My brother-in-law is a TV lover. The day after Thanksgiving 2009, he went to a Black Friday sale and purchased his Christmas present early- a wide-screen, high def TV. It’s quite impressive. More importantly, he got a great deal. The following July, however, on leave from his current tour of duty in Iraq (which, we just learned, will be ending in February, a month earlier than expected!), he was at Walmart. And an even bigger, higher resolution TV sat before him, priced 70% below normal. He couldn’t help himself; he brought it to the cashiers. They said, “Actually, that price is wrong.” He said, “But that’s the price on the TV, so you have to honor it.” They said, “Alright,” and the suddenly ‘old’ TV moved upstairs into the bedroom, so this new, extremely high resolution TV could take its place.

I know some of you have TVs like that. Though if you’ve never seen one, it’s quite incredible; almost eerie, even. We watched the movie Avatar on it, and the resolution was stunning. It seemed more real than real, and not just because much of the movie’s scenery and action are computer generated. Rather, it’s like the TV screen’s colors and shapes were amplified beyond normal human capacity. Blue was BLUE; details were more precise than a monk’s handwriting. After watching sports and movies on that TV, the everyday world around me looked…duller, less colorful, as if my life was unreal while the TV was normal. I thought, “High resolution, indeed!”

Around this time of year, of course, we speak of ‘resolution’ for other reasons than how nifty a television screen looks. A new year is coming, so people will begin making resolutions about what’s going to change in the coming months. I’ve never been a big New Year’s Resolution guy before. I’ve always thought them somewhat hokey. But this year, we got a puppy. Then, I canceled my gym membership. And once the weather turned colder, dog walks happened less frequently. Now my tummy is more insulated than it’s ever been. I think you get the story. So I’m pondering a resolution, for the first time, regarding my dormant workout routine. And checking Craigslist for inexpensive free weights, dumbbells and a bench. Let me know if you’ve any leads.

So, being new to this New Year’s Resolution phenomenon, I’ve given it some thought. And it seems comparable to the resolution of my brother-in-law’s TVs. Both have to do with heightened reality. Here’s my thinking: For the most part, I hope we’re pretty alright with our lots in life. We’re not famous inventors or CEOs, but our families, volunteer projects and simple pursuits feel meaningful enough, I pray. Still, maybe we’ve got into habits that aren’t as life-optimizing as we’d prefer. Poor sleep patterns, dinner routines, too much TV(!). Ours may not be dramatically detrimental like some habits- drug addiction, say- but we still don’t like them. They sit in the background of our consciousness, irritating like a low buzz. They make life seem duller, less colorful. So, if we do it right, we take advantage of New Year’s to sharpen the resolution a bit; eliminate a problem area, hoping that our sights and sounds will be crisper, more joyful and life-giving.

I imagine the problem comes when we expect too much of New Year’s Resolutions. When we imagine we’re ‘upgrading’ to my brother-in-law’s newest TV, not from a slightly less optimal high def set, but from my grandmother’s 1974 Panasonic. If your life truly feels unreal in comparison to where you’d like to be, seek long-term counseling or help. Not a simple set of resolutions. But if you’re like me and many others, and have identified a tweak you’d bet will brighten things up a bit, I guess a New Year’s Resolution isn’t so bad. Heck, let me know about yours, now that you know mine, and we can keep each other accountable! And if nothing like that stands out in your life, congratulations; keep on keeping on. Mostly, though, I pray that this New Year is better than the last, for you and all you encounter.

Grace and Peace,


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