I have two friends who are priests, one of whom is 83 years young. He is a wise man – and pragmatic, too - from having had a variety of life experiences.

He doesn’t beat people down with his thoughts. He just says them quietly and confidently. And when people do that, I think others are more willing to listen. I know I sure am.

One of the things he constantly says is that we – all of us, young or old, rich or poor, white, black or some other race, religious or not – shouldn’t beat ourselves up over our mistakes and failings. We’re human. We mess up. And we can’t go back in time and change what we did. It’s history. It’s done and over with. So we should learn from our errors and just move on and try to do better the next time.

That’s it. Well and simply said, but oh, so hard to do. We know that. And we especially know that at this time of year when we’re all making New Year’s resolutions to correct our mistakes. If only that’s what we were truly doing instead of still stewing about them.

Resolutions are good. As I wrote recently, these re-directions allow us to honestly look at ourselves and see where we are and where we want to be, and how much distance there is between the two. Again, though, if only we did that instead of consternating on how we got to that place. It doesn’t matter. Again, it’s already in the books. The blank pages in those books are for the stories we will write from here.

Now that we’re fully and officially into the new year – although if we had a dollar for every time we’ve already said and written, and will continue to say and wrote, “2018” instead of “2019,” we’d be hundredaires – it’s time to make the biggest change of all. We need to promise ourselves to look at the present and future, and not the past.

We have a great opportunity, especially in these first few days of January, these first few days of 2019, to start with a fresh slate. It’s like an athletic contest and the score is 0-0, or a long car ride before we ever crank the ignition. It’s just beginning. We’re just beginning.

Perhaps this will be our best year yet, or just better than recent years. Maybe it will be an exciting year or a positive year. It could be that we’ll learn something – experiencing something – off-the-charts cool. We don’t know. None of us do.

The only thing we can be sure of is that it’s up to us, and us alone. We’re totally in control. We’ve got the ball. We’re in the driver’s seat.

In a day and age when too many of us refuse to take responsibility for our own actions and instead offer excuses or point fingers at others, this is a chance for all of us to show everybody – especially ourselves – what we can do when we focus hard and give it our best shot. Not just a half-hearted effort, mind you, but instead really, truly the best that we can muster up.

And whatever the outcome, we need to be happy with it because we poured every ounce of ourselves into it.

So, what’s it going to be, doing the totally impossible and trying to change the past, or doing the totally possible and trying to change the present and future?

Remember, the first step is the hardest.

Come on, let’s join hands and get started, encouraging each other along the way, through the good times and the bad. We’re better together.