I have a habit of looking back at last year’s xanga. Not every day, mind you, but lots of days. I like to see how my life has changed since last year.

For a while there, it was totally different all the time. By now, though, what I did last year was a lot like what I did yesterday. I have the chocolatier now, instead of the Spanish engineer, but essentially I’m doing the same thing. I have three phone meetings today, and too much work for the time available, and suspense over whether or not I’ll be able to cover tuition payments — just like last year.

I’m working on the same goals, too — exercising every day, eating right, dressing like a grownup… I get good at these things for a while sometimes, and then I backslide. I used to think, when I attended a Presbyterian church, how bored God must get with our confessions (I go to a Methodist church, now, and we don’t confess). There I’d be each week, confessing that I was short-tempered with my husband or selfish or uncharitable in my thoughts or whatever it might be, and it was always the same stuff.

God probably doesn’t get bored and wish that just once we’d have a good murder to confess. But I think that we are not only inclined to do the same imperfect things over and over, but that people throughout history have tended to do all the same wrong things as well.

#1 son was telling us the other day that he’s spiteful. He knows, he says, even as he does spiteful things that he’s being spiteful, but he can’t help himself. #1 daughter agreed. She figured it was best to warn people of your particular besetting sin, whatever it might be, so that they could take it into account. I always figure we should just work on these things.

After all, if I didn’t work on exercising every day, I would probably be completely sedentary by now. If I didn’t work on my selfishness, I’d be way more selfish by now.

Or maybe not. Maybe there’s a natural reversion to the mean. #1 daughter was telling me yesterday about some issue she’s been having with her bf. I assured her that he’d do it again.

It’s like people who make unguarded racist remarks, I told her. It doesn’t really matter why they did it, or what the circumstances were. People who aren’t racist don’t have those remarks pop into their heads. So it’s not really about whether they should have said those things; it’s the fact that they thought of them in the first place that should alarm us.

Just so, a person who was really dedicated to good grooming and a professional look wouldn’t have to force herself to quit wearing the same ratty jeans and sweater for days on end. I just feel sure that La Bella doesn’t have to discipline herself to wear accessories or brush her hair. For me, it will never come naturally, even though I like the results when I make the effort.

So I told #1 daughter that it wasn’t a question of whether the guy would do these things again. He would. It was a question of whether she could accept that in him or not. And I guess it’s true for us, too. It’s easier for us to accept things in ourselves than in other people, of course. And there’s nothing wrong with striving to improve. But some things are always going to be things we have to work on.