The only time I check the horoscopes is on my birthday. You figure they've had a whole year to work on it, so if any is ever going to be right, that's the one.
Wednesday was my birthday. This was my horoscope:
You easily could go overboard this year. This behavior might shake you up as you let your normal self-discipline melt away. Look at this period as a phase: You haven't lost the ability to rein yourself in; you simply choose not to, as you are enjoying yourself.
This might come as a shock to some of you, especially if you choose your daily activities based on your relative position to Mars, but this horoscope is totally, utterly, hilariously wrong. In particular, that phrase "normal self-discipline."
Because it's Jan. 8, and the New Year's resolution I made just a week ago is - well, not quite broken, but bent like a state-fair pretzel.
It's the same resolution I've made every year since high school: lose weight, get in shape. That usually lasts until my birthday on the 4th. There's cake. Cake is one of humanity's great inventions, unless you've made a resolution to lose weight and get in shape. Then it's the devil. And a deal breaker.
It took me a long time to realize the problem was not just wanting to eat stuff that's bad for me. The problem is I want a good story. In the movie in my head, I flip the calendar to New Year's Day, jog out the door to the theme from "Rocky," and wake up next New Year's a brand new man.
That's a good, clean narrative, no stumbles or sidetracks or digressions.
But what I've (finally) figured out is that life is mostly stumbles and sidetracks and digressions. Most people who try hard at something fail more often than not. It's a long road. The tires wear out. Sometimes you blow an engine. Pull over, fix what's wrong, start again.
In the past, once I stained that nice clean narrative, I gave up. I'd point at some far-out marker on the calendar - the first of February, maybe - and then I'd let myself go until that came around. When I screwed up in February, I'd aim at March. And so on. And so on.
That's thinking too far ahead. The important thing, when you screw up, is to claw your way back to the path right then. Doesn't matter if it's a random Tuesday afternoon instead of the start of a new year. Draw the starting line there and go.
Years ago, I interviewed a guy who had played football in college. I asked if he'd ever thought about what made him good. He said he had a brother who was just as strong, just as fast, hit just as hard. The difference was this: When his brother knocked him down, he always got up. When he knocked his brother down, his brother didn't.
The truth is, when it comes to broken resolutions, nobody's knocking us down. Most of the time it's just us tripping over our own feet. Either way, we end up on that cold January ground. Maybe all those New Year's resolutions can be boiled down to one:
Keep getting up.