For some reason, Solstice this year put me in mind of a story from my childhood. My brother, when he was ten or so, made a personal resolution to say “party hearty, Marty” every day during the year that followed.

Suddenly, in late December of that following year, I heard him exclaim, “Oh, crap!” followed by “Party hearty Marty! Party hearty Marty! Party hearty Marty! Party hearty Marty!”

He had completely forgotten his vow the day after making it, and was attempting to make up for a year of neglect before the year ended. After saying “party hearty, Marty” a dozen times or so, he decided that it was simply impossible to do manually, since he was going to lose count. He thereupon typed the phrase into a word processor and copy-pasted until he had reached the required number, and had the computer read it aloud for him.

Now, when he’d made the resolution, I think (though I am only guessing) that his intent was to become that cool person who everyone associated with this signature catch phrase. Maybe he hoped to shoot finger guns at people while saying it. Maybe he’d hoped that by focusing on this affirmation, he would somehow internalize the message, and truly learn to party hearty.

Digging in deeper, he had hoped, as we all hope, that by adhering to his chosen regimen, he would become happier.

And then, 355 days later, he was faced with an ugly truth: he was not, in fact, a cool person who said “party hearty, Marty.” He was a computer nerd who did not, in fact, say “party hearty, Marty.” He did not party. He certainly did not party hearty.

He had, technically, fulfilled his obligation, but he had done so in a way which utterly distanced him from the original intent.

I meditate, as the New Year approaches, on how many resolutions — or goals, generally — really do boil down to a desire to be happier, and how often we make ourselves miserable in the pursuit of them.

Power is a tool. Health is a tool. Being heard is a tool. Even freedom is a tool. Knowledge is a tool. What is the goal, truly?

Even if spiritual growth is our goal, we must ask — why do we want that? If we are happy in our mundane lives, well liked by our peers, loved by our chosen family, and relatively assured of some kind of afterlife, what is the “more” we are seeking? Why does that “more” matter to us? We should answer that question well and thoroughly before pursuing something that may put our happiness in jeopardy. And if we don’t have those things, should they not be the primary object of our ambitions?

To add one further thought: how often do we choose our goals to avoid what we fear, rather than pursuing what we truly desire?

With that in mind, I have chosen, as my goal for the new year, the pursuit of fitness and physical energy. I’m no spring chicken, and very soon, I will have a child who will want to run and play, and I want to run and play with them. Doing this will make me happy while I play with them, and also happy as I look back on the time I spent during their childhood fully engaging with their play.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I can use magic to restore some youthful energy.