I wonder how many times the phrase "Where did the year go?" was spoken on New Year's Eve as we watched the minutes tick by and 2009 arrived.
Years certainly seem jet-propelled, at least for those who have reached that certain age when we are amazed by our resilience and frightened by our weaknesses all at the same time.
To this mature group, the arrival of the new year can be daunting, and it is more comfortable to look backward than forward. Forward can mean so many uncharted, choppy waters; backward can bring a certain mellowness in memories. Resolutions can seem ridiculous, a waste of time and relegated to the young, who just might have a chance of curbing bad habits and altering life's paths.
But then there are the optimists among us, who, despite trials and setbacks, always have a positive eye on tomorrow. No matter their age, their health, their wealth or lack of it, their lists of things to accomplish are usually long. The items on the list may be big or small, from running a marathon to building a birdhouse or writing a poem.
"Optimism is a gift," an old nun once said while trying to impart to me the many ways to paint with oils. My idea for my first attempt was difficult even in her eyes. Somehow I managed to complete the project, along with her expert words of wisdom haltingly applied.
"Jumping in with both feet sometimes works and other times doesn't," she said, "but trying is an education in and of itself."
For me, 2008 was like the hurdles placed on the track before a track meet, awaiting the athletes who will either clear them or not, yet somehow make it to the finish line — perhaps not winning, but finishing the race.
Accidents, operations, family adversities have plagued us, not to mention the nation's stock market dives, political shenanigans, health care woes and real estate collapses. But then there are the hurdles we cleared.
In the new year, a daughter and son-in-law are preparing for another tour of duty in Iraq. Grandchildren are needing constant reassurance that Mommy and Daddy are coming back. The explanations are as endless as the war seems to those who are engaged in it.
Optimism is hard to resurrect at times. But resolving to be optimistic can lead the way to a new year truly worth living.
Norma McCulliss lives in Palm Harbor.