It’s the last week of December, the last few days of 2016. I don’t know about you, but once again it feels like the year went by too fast.

There’s an old, funny saying: “Life is like a roll of toilet paper; it goes quicker when you’re near the end.” As someone who is on the shady side of her 50s, I am here to tell you that it’s true.

And not quite as amusing as it was when I first heard that in my twenties.

The thing about the end of something is it also means it’s the beginning of something else. While we will often be a little sad at the ending of some events in our lives, there is always something else that occurs after.

And that is the new beginning. Sometimes we begin with great anticipation, eagerness or excitement about what’s ahead — other times, we may begin with a heavy heart, questioning whether we have the strength or desire to continue. But, thankfully, most of us choose to go on.

That’s the beginning of saying ‘yes’ to life. Each time we open that next door after one has closed firmly behind us, we are on a forward path — and that is a beautiful thing. So saying good-bye to a whole year of many highs and lows, victories and disappointments, welcomes and farewells, may leave us with some mixed feelings.

We might be wishing for a ‘do over’ because of the way some things turned out. And, if we have any influence over the outcome, we can have a ‘do over’ by asking forgiveness, trying hard to fix a problem of our making and deciding to do better if that situation crops up again.

Then there is the new year before us, and it’s as beautiful as a Texas sunrise in the hill country. Dawn is breaking, and the sky is blue and brimming with promise with the rosy glow that turns to a big, bright ball of fire that lights up the whole world.

I hope that your year is beginning with that excitement of the unknown instead of the fear of it. ‘Let’s wait and see what happens’ is only part of looking forward to what the new year will bring.

We also need to have a plan to help us live the best year we can. Our proactive approach to improving ourselves, and the world around us, must be part of the ‘best year yet’ goal.

So, yes, it’s kind of like the traditional new year resolution, but it’s more than that. It would be great if we could set a goal that involves our commitment each day to improve everything over which we have influence.

A little self-assessment can go a long way in helping us to figure out personal weaknesses in our character or personalities that could stand some strengthening. Everyone has room for improvement.

Or maybe we can look at our relationships with family members or close friends and decide to be more responsible for the quality of those partnerships.

That’s what they are, you know; we are partners with our family members, with our co-workers, with our friends and neighbors. We should remember we are all connected and have a stake in each other’s well-being and lives. We can have better family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors by being better in all those roles ourselves.

One of my favorite quotes from G.K. Chesterton is, “We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.”

As human beings, we have much in common — not the least of which is the dignity each of us is worthy of and shares because of our very humanity. If we would truly treat others as we want to be treated, we would find ourselves on the road to respecting the members of our human family and to working together for the betterment of all.

Or I guess, to avoid mixing metaphors, I should say we would be on the same sea.

My hope and prayer is that in this new, unknown year, with all its uncertainty, that we come to treat each other with the respect each of us deserves. I will continue to try my very best to remember to do that. I want to try to be more patient, more reasonable, more appreciative in all my relationships. I hope you’ll do the same.

We can work together in a spirit of acceptance, realizing that we are all flawed and have our own life experiences that shaped our values and the concepts we revere and believe to be true. But we are not all the same. So we must be patient with one another, especially when we do not understand.

Our journeys are not the same, but with love and respect we can help one another to succeed in this life. It is short, and it is getting shorter all the time.

Happy New Year, one and all! May it be a prosperous, blessed year for us all.

Lynda MacFarland is the spouse of the III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general. She is a proud Army wife, mother and advocate for military families.

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