Woody Guthrie’s New Years Rulin’s

screen20shot202012-01-0320at2016-26-34
Copyright Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions but I do have one longstanding New Year’s tradition: every January 1, I re-read Woody Guthrie’s “New Years Rulin’s”.  Written on January 1, 1943 when the American folk singer-songwriter was 31 years old, the Rulin’s also include doodles by Guthrie. The wise list of Rulin’s include everything from basic hygiene (“Wash teeth if any”) to global affairs  (“Help win war – beat fascism”).

Even though they were written 74 years ago, the Rulin’s still have surprising relevance. Every year, there are a couple of Rulin’s that stand out for me.  This year, my favorites are number 19 (“Keep Hoping Machine Running”) and 33 (“Wake Up and Fight”).

Here are Woody Guthrie’s 33 New Years Rulin’s:

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

You can learn more about Woody Guthrie’s life and music at woodyguthrie.org.

Happy New Year! Don’t forget to keep your hoping machine running in 2017!

Advertisements

“So Shines A Good Deed In A Weary World”

Packing meals to be sent to Haiti.
Packing meals to be sent to Haiti.

I spent the last few hours of a waning 2012 with my son Simon’s hockey team.  Not on the ice, but instead in the nondescript, suburban warehouse where his Squirt hockey team was volunteering for a service project.  In just a couple of hours, Simon and his teammates (and the dozens of other volunteers who were there that afternoon) packed more than 5,000 packets of meals for children in Haiti.

It was a small act, but it will have a tangible impact on the lives of some others, kids we don’t know and will never meet.  On the way home, with the radio droning on about Congress and the looming fiscal cliff, Simon talked about what he had learned that afternoon about malnutrition and hunger.   “Don’t you think that was a good time?” he asked.  “I feel good about doing something to help out.”

It reminded me of one of my favorite lines from the movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

“So shines a good deed in a weary world. ”  ~ Willy Wonka

In looking up the quote, I realized that it in fact a reference to a line from the Merchant of Venice.

“How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”  ~ William Shakespeare

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions.  I figure if something is important enough to take action, I should just do it regardless of the time of year.  But this New Year’s Eve volunteer experience with my son, while brief, makes me think that I should make a resolution for 2013.  This year, I will be on the lookout for opportunities to do good deeds, both small and big, at home and abroad, acknowledged and unacknowledged.   In 2013, I resolve to see how far a little candle can throw its beams.

storm 2