x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Weight is down and caring is up on my list for 2009

As we ring in 2009, it is traditional to take a moment or two to reflect over the past year and make a list of New Year Resolutions that we vow to carry out before the end of the year

Of course, some of these resolutions will include a few of the old ones we never actually carried out last year - and I can bet they will be the ones that have something to do with fitness and "losing weight" (usually the three or five kilos goal, as we tell ourselves we can really do it this time). It is back on my list, again, this year, but further down than usual; and I am not alone in this it seems. Speaking to random members of my group of friends and family, it is clear that something interesting is happening. "Being a better person," or "mending relationships with loved ones", even "being more grateful and appreciative" now dominate their lists of resolutions. Rather than improving their outward shape, it seems that everyone is very much more concerned this year with their emotional or inner self. They are focusing on becoming a "better" mother or father or partner or sibling or friend - even a better colleague or boss at work. Losing weight is now way down on the list of priorities. I found it fascinating comparing the resolutions my circle of friends made just a year ago with those they were making yesterday. Back at the start of 2008, apart from vowing to slim down, we were also promising that we would buy our "dream car". Some did (and are now driving around in their yellow Porsches and white Ferraris) but I not only failed to acquire my dream vehicle, I now don't own any kind of car. One of 2008's greatest disasters - the global financial crisis - actually had a major positive effect: it served as a long overdue wake-up call. For the first time in a long time, much of the world found itself in the same predicament; usually it is just one or two countries that are in turmoil, struggling with a war or natural disaster or political upheaval. And often those countries and their problems are far away from us and have no direct impact on us. The financial crisis has begun to put things into perspective; people are rethinking their spending patterns, realising just how commercial and consumer driven their lives have become. Families of five have five cars, and teenagers as young as 13 have credit cards given to them by their parents. I have to admit that I have been as guilty as anyone else in buying things that I didn't need but felt I had to have at the time. The "consumer rush" might have come to an end - if temporarily - as we focus on the less tangible things in our lives. "I am grateful for so many things as so many people are suffering with the ever increasing unemployment and financial problems," said one of my friends, who is spending New Year at home with his parents, something he hasn't done in a decade. "I am not going to an overpriced New Year's party just to be seen at a happening place or to have a story to tell my friends," he said. As for me, I was depressed to see all those far-too familiar images being broadcast on the news channels as we enter the New Year: the conflict in Gaza. They reminded me how almost every year, with an uncanny coincidence, some bloody disaster hits the Middle East during holiday festivities. In 2006, I was in Lebanon during the summer war between Hizbollah and Israel, and we lived through the air raids. I remember the feelings of helplessness as we waited for that elusive "ceasefire"; how difficult it was to get out; how difficult to bring in medical aid. There were worldwide protests against the violence then, too - yes, the same old story. I had been hoping that 2009 would start on a positive and more "familial" note; that while "world peace" would still figure on everyone's list of resolutions, it would apply to somewhere else, not the Middle East. Since I decided along with my friends that the next year should be more about our "inside" rather than our "outside", we came up with what I know my sister would call "a mushy" list of New Year resolutions. Being kinder; giving without expecting; saving for a rainy day? the "mushy" list goes on. Since it is human nature to get sucked into the commercial world, I know we will fail to meet some of the resolutions, but at least we are trying to aim for something different in 2009. rghazal@thenational.ae