Looking both ways not same as being two-faced

Posted 1/7/21

Around this time of year, many folks go to great lengths to make resolutions about things they will do or say — or not do or say — in the new year.

For most of us, that change in behavior …

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Looking both ways not same as being two-faced

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Around this time of year, many folks go to great lengths to make resolutions about things they will do or say — or not do or say — in the new year.

For most of us, that change in behavior lasts somewhere around 10 or 15 minutes.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve ourselves. Rather, it’s that it can be hard to change. Take, for instance, the popular resolution “I’m going to lose weight.” I’ve made that promise many times. And on occasion I’ve been successful — a pound or two here, four ounces there. And then all of a sudden, I’ll run across a dozen doughnuts with my name on them and there goes the resolution.

There is, however, another obstacle in keeping resolutions. And that is that often they can be too general in scope. Take the weight-loss one, for instance. How much weight? Over what period of time? And so on.

It’s been said we need a formula for success and I’ve found one. It’s called SPAM, which is also a meat product my mother-in-law used to put on toast with lettuce and tomato and invite me to eat two or three of them.

Which I could do then ... and often did.

But here, SPAM refers to our goals and stands for Specific, Personal, Achievable and Measurable. Were I to adopt the aforementioned lose weight resolution, the SPAM would be “14 pounds (S) will be lost by Bob (P) because he’ll never weigh 175 again (A) and he’ll do it within three months by eating less, exercising more and weighing every week (M).”

While all that talk and activity is a part of the new year or New Year’s Day, there’s another tidbit about January that can — and should — drive us forward, and that’s its name.

All the months of the year have some origin and background to what they’re called. March, for instance, is named after the Roman mythological god Mars, the god of war. October at one time was the eighth month on the calendar and not the tenth so it’s stuck with “Oct,” which being translated means “eight.”

So here’s January, named for the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings. The old boy throughout history was pictured as a man with two faces, back-to-back, one looking forward and the other backward. The idea behind that was that he could see both ways — at what had happened and what would happen — and do it at the same time.

While that may have been easy for him, it can be pretty hard for us humans. Some people have trouble looking forward with hope because they keep looking back and moping over mistakes of the past. And these days, many of us look back on 2020 and the pandemic with all kinds of emotions ranging from sorrow and sadness to anger and depression. But crying over spilled milk isn’t a good recipe for life. Nothing is gained by continually grieving over the past.

So, here’s a good resolution you might want to try on. Stop looking back and brooding over past failures. Try the forward look; move ahead with hope and joy. Make your life right with the Creator and your fellow humans. Look for ways to be of help to one another. Look ahead.

Be like the little lady living in a nursing home I heard of recently. A man waiting in the lobby for a friend was reading through a magazine when he sensed someone was watching him. Glancing up, he saw the aforementioned lady sitting in her wheelchair looking at him. He nodded in her direction and went back to his reading.

In a few moments, the feeling was stronger and he looked up to find her staring at him.

That happened several more times until he got up and crossed the room to her and said, “Ma’am, I’ve noticed you looking at me and I wonder if everything is OK with you.”

She replied, “Oh, yes but I was thinking you look like my third husband.”

They chatted for a few minutes until he finally said, “Well, ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking, how many husbands have you had?”

“Two,” she said.

And, by the way while you’re at it, if you see a jelly doughnut with your name on it, go ahead. And if you see one with my name on it, please call me. I can adjust my SPAM.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.


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