The Semi-Adventures of a Nomadic Mathematician Rotating Header Image

I Shall Not Complain

That is my New Year’s resolution. It has been a month now, and it’s been great: I can’t complain. Slightly more than 8% of the year has passed and I have been perfectly successful with my resolution. I have not been successful with anything else, but I cannot possibly tell anything about that.

People resort to making New Year’s resolutions out of desperation. When things go intolerably bad, New Year’s Eve promises a false clean start. Since I was born desperate, I always make resolutions as the end of the year approaches. In fact, I don’t even need temporal demarkations to make them: I live in a permanent state of despair and the faint hope provided by resolutions keeps me alive. Given my fondness for lists, naturally, I also have a list of current and past resolutions. It is depressing to look at it, and since this year I do not want to complain or whine, I am afraid this list will not be updated soon.

So instead of dwelling on past failures, my only option is to make this one work, and make it work sincerely and intrinsically. Every time I announce that this is my New Year’s resolution, I trigger an astonishingly long series of teasing. Apparently, my acquaintances got so used to me whining all the time that they know the topics I tend complain about better than I do. This is a surprising finding because I am inclined to complain about a broad spectrum of issues and nonissues, including but not restricted to the following topics:

  • Mass surveillance.
  • Catalan police brutality.
  • Trains not running on time, especially in countries where one would expect they would. Spain is not among them.
  • The trials and tribulations of academic life, such as manuscripts not getting written by themselves and the hopelessness of a career in science.
  • The injustices I suffer from the IT department (in an arbitrary institution — me being affiliated is not a prerequisite).
  • Tax rates.
  • Lack of vegan food.
  • Same food every day.
  • Being forced to cook.
  • Being forced to eat what I cooked.
  • Low temperature.
  • Low humidity.
  • Low blood sugar.
  • Low cholesterol level. I somehow suffer from this, while the rest of human kind has the opposite problem.
  • Not being able to increase my mass.
  • Bad coffee.
  • Long queue for coffee.
  • Slow internet.
  • Banks.
  • Flights.
  • Property agents.
  • People pilfering from my stash of whiteboard markers.
  • Not having time.

The one thing I never complain about is being bored. I never am. If I was, I would complain, and the condition would cease to be with immediate effect. As a matter of fact, this blog exists because I love complaining so much and I needed one more outlet.

It might sound like that I complain about not being able to complain this year, but this is not the case: January has been terrific and it is largely due to my resolution. As I said in the opening paragraph, life is a drag as always, but it is oddly liberating not thinking about it and not giving a damn.

I stopped reading news and the impact is a much happier self: if I don’t know about the latest mass surveillance or police brutality scandal, then I can’t fume about it. For all I care, the world can go to hell.

Recognizing this was a good start. Worrying about things that cannot be changed is stupid, I knew that. Yet, I used to complain about them. Not anymore: temperatures will never be high enough to keep me from shivering, coffee will always be bad everywhere, trains can only run late, and society needs parasites like property agents and bankers.

This leaves me with a handful of issues that I can do something about instead of whining about them. To prevent starvation, I stocked up on weird Taiwanese vegan stuff from a phenomenal Asian store. Now I am addicted to spicy dehydrated tofu on a stick and a curious kind of sweet and salty pickled olives that were subjected to some abhorrent industrial procedure that made them puff up. Then I contacted a tax advisor to find out how bad my situation was. It is as bad as anybody else’s, so I have a reason to rejoice about my solidarity with my fellow men. I also added tax advisors to the list of parasites. Furthermore, I managed to postpone all aerial travel until after the first two months of the year, which makes me especially delighted. Finally, I hid my good whiteboard markers and left the dry ones out for the pilferers. I shall not complain this year because I no longer have any reason to complain.