Some people, myself included, make New Year’s resolutions that are bound to fail. Take, for instance, my vowing to take up marathoning despite my penguin-like flat feet that keep me from running more than a block at a time. Other people inventory all their defects and deficiencies, the weight of which end up crushing their spirits rather than motivating them to change.
Looking back through the rubble of 2021, or 2020, for clues of what we might do in 2022 is not very helpful unless it leads you to do just the opposite. Last year, most Americans followed the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Covid oracle, and embraced a quasi-monastic life. I know people who didn’t leave their home for several months.
|Fever? Better get tested.|
We obediently vaccinated, boosted, and kept our face masks on. It seemed to work for awhile, but Covid roared back anyway in the form of the Omicron variant. And just think how many more letters are left in the Greek alphabet.
At this point, you’re excused if you feel like taking the advice of Miss Peggy Lee: “If that’s all there is my friend, let’s just keep dancing, break out the booze and have a ball.”
Except I can’t dance and I’m not going to discard 37-some years of sobriety. But neither am I ready to get stuck in the mud and keep doing the same ol’.
So I’ve picked out some resolutions that in some cases may be more like reactions to what we experienced during 2021.
1. On matters of science, I will turn my attention to outer space. As daily reports about the virus have become an ever more confusing muddle, the mysteries of the universe appear not only awesome and inspiring but comparatively straightforward, and on track to become more so in the new year.
|Hello, little Martians, wherever you are.|
In February 2021, the U.S. landed a exploration vehicle on Mars the size of a small car, that among a myriad instruments carried a small helicopter that made 18 brief picture-taking flights. Everything worked flawlessly.
If you’re not impressed, consider that Mars and the earth are between 55 and 400 million kilometers apart, depending on their relative orbital locations. Landing something on Mars is like someone hitting a baseball in Wrigley Field into the mitt of a waiting outfielder in Bombay.
On Christmas Day, the U.S. and its European space partners launched the James Webb Space Telescope, an incredibly complex piece of equipment that is zooming to its final destination, an orbit around the earth one million miles away. When the telescope is finally set up, man will be able to peer farther into the universe than ever before.
And as if wasn’t enough, Cpt. James Tiberius Kirk who was born in Riverside, Iowa in 2233—and is also known as William Shatner, age 90—rocketed his chubby butt into space aboard one of Jeff Bezos’ rockets. It gave all those over 65 renewed hope of a quick ride into space, at least if they have lots of money.
2. Research into renewable energy will keep its rapid growth in 2022. Electric vehicles, including trucks, and renewable energy sources, once considered far-fetched, suddenly are upon us.
Right here at the ranch, in 2022 we plan to replace the two ten-year-old, lead acid batteries in our solar electric system with the latest-generation lithium ferro phosphate batteries. The current batteries weigh 900 lbs. each and are normally used to power forklifts.
The three new batteries weigh only 78 pounds each and are the size of a briefcase. They are waiting for us in one of those container ships from China meandering outside Los Angeles for the past six months.
More curious, or cynical, readers might ask: How are we going to dispose safely of those monstrous old batteries? Indeed. Stay tuned, is all I can say.
And have you noticed how during the past two years, quaint colonial San Miguel has quietly changed all the sodium vapor street lamps in favor of LEDs that consume only a fraction of the electricity, even if they emit a fairly harsh light?
3. I will have renewed respect for the sensibilities of animals. Two films and a book last year revealed how intelligent and even soulful animals can be.
The Oscar-winning documentary My Octopus Teacher (Netflix) is about a year-long relationship between a South African diver and an octopus, who develop an intimate bond that shows the keen intelligence of the octopus.
That led me to The Soul of an Octopus, a book by Sy Montgomery, which shows not only the intelligence but the consciousness of octopuses, which can befriend humans, play tricks, solve problems and on occasion, even be a little wily.
|Gunda: Get along little piggies.|
And a pig named Gunda—who’s still alive—is the protagonist in a strange, fascinating and ultimately heart-wrenching eponymous movie, about life on a Norwegian farm. The film is in black and white and has no script, dialogue, music or any other manmade noises—just the sound of Gunda’s grunts and oinks, and of other animals on the ranch.
The movie grabs you and doesn’t let go until the end, when you’ll probably be reaching for a box of Kleenex. Pigs have the smarts of a three-year-old kid and are social, gregarious animals.
After reading and watching those films, I’ve resolved to pay more attention to my four dogs and three cats, which I tend to take for granted. How I’m going to do that it’s not clear. Maybe play more with them, look at them in the eyes, take them on walks, talk to them, try to learn their differences and observe how they process different games and situations.
As far as my diet, well, I never ate octopus. As for giving up pork chops, I’ll have to meditate on that. Sorry, Gunda. Dogs and cats are safe.
4. We will try to kick the meatloaf habit. It’s interesting how that works: Americans and Canadians move here singing their love of everything Mexican, but then get stuck in a rut of eating the same stuff—meatloaf special today?—at a handful of restaurants, with the same dining partners.
|Today’s special is meatloaf! Again?|
Yet, San Miguel’s roster of restaurants of all types grows daily, offering different cuisines, locations, and price ranges. Just this afternoon, I discovered a new Cuban restaurant!
Even when we find a new restaurant, after a while we often drift back to the familiar. Instead, I’d like to sample Mexico’s fabulous cuisine beyond the ol’ enchiladas—green or red salsa?
5. 2022 will be the year Stew and I resume traveling. Back in January 2020, we bought tickets to London on Aeroméxico that we’ve had to cancel three times. Mercifully, Aeroméxico each time has given us full-price vouchers, the latest to expire on Nov. 30.
No more cowering at home, wondering what the virus is going to go next. Odds are that the risks of contagion are no worse in Chicago than in London or Vancouver. And if I’m going to wear a mask, I’d rather do so sitting at a sidewalk café in Rome or Paris, than roaming at the Don Pedro hardware store or having another meatloaf special in San Miguel.
2022? Bring it on. We’re ready.