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Wyatt Emmerich: The Beauty of the New Year

The beauty of the new year is our momentary hope that we can actually do better.
It is the same in sports. In football, you hope the second half will be a turnaround. In tennis, the next set will surely be better than the first. In golf, there’s always the chance to improve on the back nine.
There is something about an arbitrary division in time that gives us hope, or at least a chance to pause and think how we could do better.
We all have so many faults, but one thing I love about humans is our unending effort at doing better next time. These optimistic aspirations are encapsulated in our timeless ritual of New Year’s resolutions.
Probably the most common resolution is to be a better person. This is a noble resolution but the hardest one of all to fulfill.
I see it in my wife and children daily. Every morning that they wake up, I can sense an effort to do better this time. I hope they see that in me. Unfortunately, the stress of the day takes a toll, and bedtime can be a grumpy time around the Emmerich household. So one of my resolutions is to shut up and go to sleep when I get grumpy.
Here’s another technique I have been trying out: Try to pretend that you have been long since dead and God granted your request to go back one last time and spend a night with your family.
Would you be mad when you noticed an unwashed plate? I don’t think so. Instead, you would be overwhelmed by their beauty and your love for them. You would want to sweep them up in your arms and hug them with all your might.
Of course, restraint is necessary when practicing this technique, lest you scare them. They might be wondering why Dad is acting so weird. But you get the picture.
I have played guitar all my life, a gift that I, unfortunately, take for granted. I rarely play anymore. (However, feel free to listen to 100 or so of my songs on You Tube.)
Over the years, I have written a few original songs. One of my favorites is a ditty I call “Time Stops for No One.”
We’ve got a day when everything is fine
How long will it last?
Happy smiles, a joyful time
It goes by fast
Dig down deep, enjoy the moment
Time stops for no one
In a few years, this will all be long gone
Time stops for no one
When you think of everything we have
Seems such a waste
Let’s try hard to see the good
Before Heaven’s Gate
Dig down deep, enjoy the moment
Time stops for no-one
In just a blink, this could all be long gone
Time stops for no-one
Yes, I know, it’s easier said than done
Why is this so?
It’s all laid out right before our eyes
And yet we let it go
Dig down deep . . .
The other most popular New Year’s resolution is, of course, to lose weight and get in shape.
Over the years, I have written about intermittent fasting, which is the only thing that has ever worked for me. The problem is, it works so well that I figure I can lose weight any time I want, which means I never do.
However, this year I am growing comfortable with the idea of a natural body weight, which, for most of us, is a few pounds more than our cosmetic ideal. Your natural body weight is the weight at which additional pounds are quickly lost by minimal effort.
For instance, I look best at 155. Yet I find my scales gravitating around 162. If I balloon up to 165, just thinking about not eating will bring me back down to 162. However, to go down to 155 requires intermittent fasting and overcoming the annoyance of hunger sensations. So my resolution this year is to accept that I do indeed have a natural body weight and to come to terms with that.
Fortunately, I have enough Scottish blood in me to ensure some degree of weight stability. I am too cheap to buy all new clothes. I’m still wearing blue jeans from high school. Half my suits were hand-me-downs from my father and are more than 40 years old. Now I have handed some down to my son John, who is roughly my size. How cool is that! A three-generation suit. (Not that anyone wears suits anymore.)
I have some reason to be optimistic in the coming year. The year 2017 is the last year that I will ever be a father of three teenagers. Wow, was that all it was cracked up to be! All the warnings were dead on.
Of course, it makes sense. Nothing could be harder in life than to grow up. The true transition from child to adult occurs in the teenage years. It’s hard for everyone.
True, young children are growing up too, but they are more manageable. Teenage transition is much more stressful on parents, because we are having to deal with our loss of control—not to mention the dreaded onslaught of hormones.
It is made infinitely more difficult in this age of technology when young people now have access to about all the information and temptations in the world right at their fingertips on the smartphone.
The smartphones first appeared just as my children entered their teenage years. I was a parental guinea pig, and I sure didn’t appreciate it.
I can remember when the first smartphone appeared and teens started carrying them everywhere. When I first got one, I typed in XXX and was mortified at what I saw. I called the cell phone company and said, “Do you realize thousands of young teens are running around with these phones and they have no blocks or filters on them at all?” The response I got? “That’s not our problem.”
Fortunately, parental controls are much more advanced today, but I worry about all those kids who were exposed to all that in their early teen years.
I was a fanatic about tracking teen texts and blocking pernicious sites, but in the end I failed. At one point, I handed one child my phone and said, “Go to it. There’s no way you can hack these filters.” He did it in 30 minutes. That’s when I realized we had entered a brave new era of parenting.
But all’s well that ends well. At the moment, the Emmerich family is enjoying a period of relative tranquility, which by normal standards is still chaos.
After a failed first launch, John is now doing well at Belhaven. Lawrence has a high school degree and 16 college credits from Montana State University. (How you can get college credits from kayaking in New Zealand is a mystery to me, but nothing surprises me with that child.) Ruth, my easy child, is studying harder than ever before.
Here’s to the New Year!

Wyatt Emmerich is the president of Emmerich Newspapers, Inc. in Jackson.

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