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Harris Blackwood: New year brings a welcome do-over for us all
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Sometimes, when I am writing the column, I start out with an idea and it just falls flat. When that happens, I will highlight everything and press the delete key.

It’s a do-over.

In golf with friends, if you hit one of those shots that ricochets off a tree, goes deep in the woods or falls straight into the water, you can take a mulligan.

A new year is the closest thing to a do-over or a mulligan that is afforded in life.

Sometimes, I wish I could go back to my 20s, but only with the knowledge or experience I now have. I spent a lot of time and money going down a dead-end road.

In my highway safety work, we had a terrible year. If you have seen the message boards along the interstate roads, you may be aware that we have killed a lot of people in car crashes.

While it doesn’t take away the carnage that occurred in 2016, beginning today we have a clean slate to start 2017.

For those who have not taken care of the wonderful body that we were given at birth, the new year is a time we can reverse our trends of overeating, lack of exercise and need for rest.

In years past, we used to see a cartoon image of the old and new years. The old year was a sad looking fellow who is all bent over with a walking cane. The New Year was a diapered baby with a big smile and lots of energy.

I hate to think that a year made up of just 365 days ages from a little baby to an old man. I can say I was tired of 2016 weeks ago.

We had a brutal election. The primary saw people say disparaging things about one another in both parties.

The general election was just as vicious.

Outside of politics, we seem to be in a time when we have lost respect for law enforcement officers and are taking out those frustrations in gun battles.

I think that we may be on the verge of losing respect for one another, regardless of our professions. Parents use their child’s shortcomings to blame teachers, who must deal with unruly students with poor manners.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid those students are modeling behavior they have learned at home. Some people are just not setting a good example.

If we were to have a full-fledged do-over, we would need more than New Year’s Day. We might need a month or two. The ship of bad behavior is not a motorboat, but is a full-fledged ship that needs a complete turnaround that won’t happen with a quick turn of the rudder.

I’ve quietly set myself some goals and not some quick ideas that I dreamed up while writing this. There are some things that I want to accomplish in 2017 and began laying the groundwork a few months ago.

There are a bunch of baby steps we can take right way, such as being kind to someone for no reason, going to a place of worship on a regular basis and setting yourself a worthwhile goal for this week. Then, do it again a week later.

I’m ready for a good year and hope you are, too.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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