Not unlike Congress, I have always been addicted to futile and meaningless resolutions.
I don’t know that they are futile and meaningless at the time, or I would not make them. Every year, without fail, I resolve to become an entirely different person.
It is not so much that I want to be a different person as that I think that somewhere inside me, this much better person has been hiding out all along, like a piece of cereal you discover has been hiding in your sweater. I am flabby and undisciplined; she is an impeccable machine. She wakes every day with the lark—in fact, the lark has come to depend on her as a sign it ought to be up and about. She certainly does not have laundry covering every available surface of her apartment. When a new email arrives in her inbox, she does not make a noise like an enraged pterodactyl and throw her phone into a bucket.
I spend much of my time planning around this impeccable self whom I feel confident someday I will coax into appearing, even for a minute, so that others will believe in her too. I do all my packing for her. It is for her that I travel always with several sets of workout clothes and the complete works of Plato. She would hate, you see, to be without them.
Someday, maybe, I will introduce this imaginary person I make all my plans around to the actual person I am. She would like her, I think; although she would be disappointed that I have not gone jogging for months except when running late for trains.
One year, determined to wake up early, I bought a coffee machine and put it on the table next to my bed. Every night I would set it so that all I had to do upon waking was to turn it on. I managed this for about a week. Every night I would fill it with coffee and water and then, to my chagrin, discover that it was 2 a.m. It had no tangible effect on my waking, but my whole apartment developed a very strange aroma.
Maybe, I tell myself, this will be the day that everything is suddenly and unexpectedly much better. I am telling myself this all the time, when I pack suitcases and when I set my alarm clock at night. Historically, this has not been true, but there is a version of myself that exists—somewhere between when I set the alarm and when my head hits the pillow—who is going to be capable of doing such incredible things.
At least I am not alone in this philosophy. The recent tax plan suggests that Congress shares my approach of assuming that for no reason something unspeakably wonderful will happen. And President Trump has signed it into law.
They are certain that people will come to love the bill, once they get to know it. Given that the bill was scrawled hastily in Sharpie on the back of a Best Buy receipt at 3 a.m., then snuck through during a week when most people had abandoned hope and gone on vacation, I am not sure how Republicans know that we will love it, but who can say.
The fewer details you know about a thing like that, the better. It has “tax cuts” in the name.
The good news is that nothing like this has happened since the 1980s, so probably we were overdue for it. Then again, this is also true of smallpox.
There’s more good news about the bill: It combines the popularity of Trump with the good ideas of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The House GOP found a fragment of a map that they are positive will lead to the single economist who believes this bill is a good idea and that it will do what it says it will. And if you are a corporation who has been disguising yourself as a small, struggling middle-class family all this time, you will get quite a significant tax break.
Maybe this will be the year when everything goes right.
There are words for this fallacy. Some people say that the definition of insanity is running repeatedly into the same wall. I say that my somewhat muddled understanding of quantum physics suggests that if you run into a wall enough times, one of those times, that wall will turn out to be a door.