What’s the difference between New Year’s Resolutions and good intentions? Nothing. Resolutions usually are characterized by their difficulty, are thus easily broken, and therefore don’t last long. Resolutions, without resolve, are merely good intentions.
There’s a town called Resolute and, given its year-round frozen-ground location and the sheer grind that accompanies the realization of resolutions, Resolute is appropriately named in the Inuktitut language “the place with no dawn”. The average temperature at Resolute is a minus-16 degrees, including the summer when things warm up to seven degrees in July; the all-time record high a whopping 18 degrees above zero. Resolute is situated “north of the tree line”, the 2nd-most northern town in Canada and serves as the jumping-off place for experimental studies in the region Santa Claus hails from – the North Pole. It goes without saying that in order to live in Resolute you’ve gotta have resolve, not to mention wind-stopper gloves, 24/7 long-johns, three layers of blankets on your bed, and the like.
Like living in Resolute, anything you want to be or do this next year is going to take resolve. To achieve our goals the most important step is the next one. And then the step after that.
Speaking of the next steps, when sailors aboard the HMS Resolute found she had become inextricably encased in ice, they abandoned ship and walked away. Not only did they lose their ship, they never did find what they’d been looking for in the first place - another lost ship captained by Sir John Franklin who had left Britain in 1845 in search of the fabled Northwest Passage through the Canadian Artic. The lost HMS Resolute was found a year later by James Buddington, an American whaler, 1,200 miles from where it had been left. Buddington then sailed it to New London, Connecticut where, himself and the HMS Resolute presumed lost once again, he and the multiple-masted ship finally showed up on Christmas Eve, 1855.
Given the United States and England weren’t getting along, again, in fact were threatening war, the HMS Resolute was restored and refitted and sailed to England as a gift to placate the powers-that-be. This December 12th is the 156th Anniversary of the HMS Resolute arriving in an English harbor, was toured by Queen Victoria, and was accepted by Her Majesty, thus becoming instrumental in easing the tensions and “smoothing the turbulent waters” that separated the two powers and through which the ship had sailed.
The HMS Resolute had one more mission, her most famous in her storied history, one that Nicolas Cage would popularize in the movie “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets”.
When the HMS Resolute was decommissioned, from the vessel’s timbers “the most famous desk in the world” – the Resolute - was constructed, upon which the elbows of all but three presidents (Lyndon B. Johnson was too large and didn’t fit) of the United States have rested since it was presented to our country, where documents have been signed, and maybe even pictures colored by John F. Kennedy Jnr. with his president-and-dad looking over his shoulder.
All of which shows-to-go-you that when tempted to give up, to abandon ship, to walk away and otherwise declare defeat of yet another New Year’s resolution unattainable, unreachable, and therefore breakable, remember the town with the same name as a ship that became a desk that to this day has taken center stage for every picture photographed in the Oval Office. And give it another go.
There’s use in those old timbers even yet.