The year’s most empty promises are being made as you read this; with people all over the world resolving to better themselves and their lives. In spite of an avalanche of empirical evidence to the contrary, we somehow believe that January the 1st is some kind of magical reset button that can will us to achieve feats the previous 364 days failed to actualise.
So, I ask you to suspend your collective disbelief and join me as I share my New Year ambitions. In fact, since we are making it a communal event, I am going to drag our city into it in hopes that Chiang Mai too will be inspired by my New Year’s resolutions and join our self-improvement bandwagon.
Lose weight: ‘Just stop eating,’ I can hear you scream at the page. But it isn’t the amount I eat that’s the problem, it is the lack of routine and forethought — “Oops, the fridge is empty again, food delivery please.” It is also the fact that I don’t follow the rules, refusing to acknowledge calories, learn about what is good or bad for me and control my every whim.
Yes, Chiang Mai, that applies to you too: as our urban sprawls wider and wider in every and awful direction, city planning is a good idea, not this current ad hoc development we seem to be freeing-for-all. And once the plans are there, how about actually acknowledging and respecting them, following the rules and not simply building and bulldozing at will?
Exercise: I used to enjoy all sorts of sports and was so active I spent up to three hours a day playing tennis, skiing or riding. Now? I can’t seem to motivate myself out of my sofa during my down times. So I’m going to stop talking about it, cease my incessant complaining and resist blaming my busy schedule. If Nike can, then I can do it too.
People, that applies to you too. I can’t bear to read another thread on some online forum bellyaching about this issue or that by people I either know for a fact, or can hazard a pretty educated guess, actually do nothing to affect change. Start a petition, write to authorities or the media, join an activist group, hell, start one! There are a myriad ways we can make our city better if we get off our arses, turn off our screens, and simply act.
Quit smoking: It is disgusting. I find it vile and I am the one doing it. It is horrid as well as dangerous to those around me and there is simply no upside to this dreadful habit. With a little effort — hypnotism works very well for me — I can stop. It may not be terribly easy, but it is worth the slight struggle to save not just my own, but other people’s lives too.
Stop burning! It is disgusting. The affects are vile and so many are doing it. It is horrid as well as dangerous to everyone and while there is a slight upside to this dreadful habit (it is convenient), with some effort — solutions are out there — it can stop. It may not be terribly easy, but it is worth the struggle to save, not just yourself and your family, but other people’s lives.
Put some effort into taking care of myself: Wearing makeup once in a while and dressing prettily shouldn’t be beyond my reach. Go and get a health checkup. Clean the car. Get rid of all those tatty old clothes no one wants to see. Look around, I am not too old to be aware of fashion and I should actually expand my wardrobe from t-shirts and skirts made by my mum to something more befitting of my maturity.
For a city which seems to be winning all sorts of awards and recognitions, we are still pretty disgusting in places. Mae Kha Canal is a raw sewer running through the town, garbage is dumped onto street corners every night, with rats scurrying from drain to drain, popping up to say a gross hello. The proliferation of signs are an eyesore I can’t seem to get anyone to care about and while there are some beautiful parts of the city, there are many areas that could do with a bit of a spruce up and a spring clean. There have been success stories in cities all over the world, the authorities should go and learn about how they do it and apply it to Chiang Mai.
Work harder: It is all well and good being a bit of a bon vivant and indulging in my Thai sabai sabainess. But times are tough, the print media’s future is dim, the economy has been slumping for so long I need to check its pulse to see if it’s still alive and I need to simply put in more time, energy and creativity. I have it in me to do this. I know this city well, I am able to get my thoughts put into words which seem to be able make sense to people. I have so many ideas. I have an amazing support system of fantastic staff, wonderful clients, a dedicated and invested readership and a loving family. I just have to focus and dedicate myself more to my task and I know I can make Citylife and all our products and services not only better, but more profitable.
Chiang Mai, you listening? We love our chilled city with its happy vibe, but we are facing some serious challenges and we need to work together to find creative solutions and the will to make this city what we know it has the potential to be. There are so many great minds here with fantastic ideas, the vast majority of people in Chiang Mai love our city and are willing to work to make it better. Our visitors adore us and want to come back, our residents are doing incredible things and our 700+ year old history makes for a solid foundation. We have all the elements to turn this into a wonderful city to benefit all…not just those sitting on corrupt mountains of cash.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you can pick up the January 2018 issue next year and drop your draw at the vision of a fit, healthy and happy me while looking around you at an efficiently run and beautifully put together city with blue skies as bright as our future? (The first part of that sentence being nice for me of course, but the second, surely, for us all.)
Wishing you all a healthy, happy, loving and overall joyous 2017.