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December 31st, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions from Mark Twain, Charles Bukowski, Bob Dylan and Other Writers

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by David Rogers

mark-twain-new-years-resolutions

The folks over at the Telegraph have put together a list of quotes about New Year’s resolutions from 30 authors. Other than the fact that they refer to “U.S. President Benjamin Franklin,” the list is pretty stellar. The best quote comes from Mark Twain, and really, I’ve never seen a list of quotes that included one from Twain where his wasn’t the best. Here’s what he has to say about resolutions:

“New Year’s Day: now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual . . . New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions.”
– Mark Twain

[*Update: The Telegraph has corrected the Franklin error.]

There’s actually part of the above Twain quote that was left out in the Telegraph article, which I think should probably also be included:

“Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.”

I’ve also found quite a few other resolutions from other authors that I like pretty well. Speaking of promiscuous drunks, we’ll start with Charles Bukowski, who wasn’t putting up with all the festivities.

“New Year’s Eve always terrifies
me
life knows nothing of years.”

– Charles Bukowski

Here are some more New Year’s quotes than run the gamut in terms of tone, style and intention.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
– T.S. Eliot

“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.”
– Brooks Atkinson

“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.”
– Bill Vaughan

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.”
– Anaïs Nin

“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:  To rise above the little things.”
– John Burroughs

“Enjoy life more… I’m gonna try that one.”
– Bob Dylan, reading 10 popular New Year’s Resolutions on his old “Theme Time Radio Hour” show.