Woody Guthrie’s 33 New Year’s resolutions (summed up in just 2 words)

Ear­lier this week, I wrote about how I’m not really a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion kinda gal, but if I were, I’d draw inspi­ra­tion from a tat­tered hand­writ­ten doc­u­ment penned in 1942.

Drawn up by leg­endary singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie, the 33-item list is a quirky and sweet reminder of how the qual­ity of our lives depends not so much on huge accom­plish­ments but on the count­less small actions and habits that con­sti­tute our days.

For the record, here is what the 30-year-old Guthrie sought to do in the year ahead:

1. Work more and bet­ter
2. Work by a sched­ule
3. Wash teeth if any
4. Shave
5. Take bath
6. Eat good — fruit — veg­eta­bles — milk
7. Drink very scant if any
8. Write a song a day
9. Wear clean clothes — look good
10. Shine shoes
11. Change socks
12. Change bed cloths often
13. Read lots good books
14. Lis­ten to radio a lot
15. Learn peo­ple bet­ter
16. Keep ran­cho clean
17. Dont get lone­some
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hop­ing machine run­ning
20. Dream good
21. Bank all extra money
22. Save dough
23. Have com­pany but dont waste time
24. Send Mary and kids money
25. Play and sing good
26. Dance bet­ter
27. Help win war — beat fas­cism
28. Love mama
29. Love papa
30. Love Pete
31. Love every­body
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight

As I read over this list one more time, it struck me that the whole ram­bling lovely mass could be summed up in just two words: Be kind.

Be kind to your­self. Be kind to oth­ers. Be kind to your com­mu­nity and the planet we all inhabit. While con­crete goals are great—and cer­tainly have their place—it’s the spirit in which they’re under­taken that lies at the heart of it all.

Note: Big thanks to my friend and law school class­mate Ted Mills, who shared the Guthrie list with me on Face­book in response to my pre­vi­ous post. Here’s the link he posted.

© 2011, amy gut­man. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Woody Guthrie’s 33 New Year’s resolutions (summed up in just 2 words)

  1. I’ve seen this list sev­eral times recently and I always smile when read­ing #28 — 31 (Love Moma/Love Papa/Love Pete/Love Every­body). Yes, “Be Kind” sums this up nicely.

    One of my favorite say­ings, almost a med­i­ta­tion or prayer for me:

    Life is short and we have never too much time for glad­den­ing the hearts of those who are trav­el­ling the dark jour­ney with us. Oh, be swift to love; make haste to be kind. — Henri Fred­eric Amiel

    Make haste to be kind: my say­ing, my mantra, my objec­tive, my New Years’ Res­o­lu­tion, my guide­post and way­mark for 2012.
    Anne Camille recently posted…Pho­tos: Late after­noon, with iceMy Profile

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