independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Denise Deegan: I've only one resolution that is really worth making this year

I don't make new year resolutions. The thought of committing to do even one thing to become a better person makes me want to rebel before I even start. So I don't start. Why disappoint myself?

There is something about trying to be good that makes me want to be bad. Diets have never worked for me. I've always ended up eating more. I like to walk – but if I thought for one second I was 'taking exercise', I'd stop. It's a relief I never started smoking. I've no idea how I'd quit.

Once, I had to go on a residential course for work. It was one of those 'breakthrough thinking' jobbies that are meant to lead to creativity. We were told that we'd have to stick to a special diet and would not be allowed alcohol. I packed beer and tortilla chips in case I needed a quiet breakout in my bedroom. I never actually did, but knowing I had the option kept me sane.

Asked to choose between coffee or peppermint tea, I'd choose coffee. Fruit or chocolate? Chocolate. When choosing a course of study, years back, I almost talked myself out of public relations in the mistaken belief that it involved being nice to people.

Every year, I leave Christmas shopping until the last minute. Not a good idea. But changing, being sensible, wouldn't feel like me.

And yet, despite all that, this year is going to be different. This year I am making a resolution. Just the one, mind. It has been one-and-a-half years in development. The idea germinated in Sardinia on a family holiday.

This particular holiday was the best we'd had in ages. It was last minute and totally disorganised, chosen on the basis that friends repeatedly went to that hotel and they knew what they were doing.

For one week, we lounged by a pool. We played table tennis. We swam. We played fussball. As a family, for one whole week, we just played.

I started to get philosophical. Life should be like this all the time. I would buy a table tennis table. Possibly a trampoline. Definitely a fussball table. We would transform.

Then we came home and realised that we had no space to play. The garden was too small for a trampoline, the kitchen too small for a table tennis table, and was fussball really that great? The philosophy was quietly shelved.

But now, after one-and-a-half years of bad news, it's back. It's time to have fun. And, this time, a lack of space isn't going to stop me.

Our tiny garden will be sacrificed in favour of bounce. Furniture will be pushed aside for ping pong. If we have people around, we'll shove the table tennis table outside and shut the blinds.

Children would never make a resolution like this. They wouldn't need to. Having fun is a natural part of their lives. Then, somehow, somewhere along the way (starting in school), work and responsibility take over. Fun falls through the cracks. And disappears.

Not to be too dramatic about it, but why are we alive if we can't have fun? It shouldn't be just for children. Maybe it should even be a human right.

From tomorrow, I'm going to milk the maximum fun out of each day. Forgotten friends will get calls for coffee. I will make time to swim. Work will no longer dominate my life. And if I start to slip back into my own ways, someone remind me. You have it in writing.

Irish Independent

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