In which Kevin eats ALL of the cupcakes before resolutions kick in...

I've been talking to many people over the course of the past few days and there seems to be two distinct schools of thought when it comes to New Year's.

Some folks eagerly look forward to the changing of the calendar. To them, it represents a fresh start … a chance to wipe the slate clean and begin again.

Others are a bit more pragmatic. They view January 1 as just another day, no more and no less important that any other.

And, while I can see the merit in each viewpoint, you can probably guess which side I come down on.

I'm an unabashed optimist who tries to see the good in everyone and the positive aspects of each situation. This attitude has its drawbacks, I admit, but at age 50 I don't see myself changing anytime soon!

So, it's with a big smile and a goatee smeared with cupcake icing (see photo) that I embark on this New Year's column!

Looking Back

An objective analysis of the past 12 months would probably prove that 2016 was a pretty average year.

No better and no worse that many before it.

However, especially in the last few weeks, the phrase “I hate 2016!” has echoed through the newsroom with increasing frequency and venom.

I know this is an exaggeration, but it seems like every time I checked the Associated Press wire, another beloved public figure had died.

From David Bowie in January to Muhammad Ali in June, culminating with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds in December, 2016 has been absolutely brutal.

Just when you finally began to recover from the death of Prince or Arnold Palmer, another beloved person passed … like Gary Marshall or Pat Summitt.

It was a never-ending funeral procession of men and women who meant the world to us as children, teenagers and adults.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Well, I guess we could embrace the old Benedictine belief that we should all “Keep death daily before our eyes.”

Now, this seems like a real downer … especially here in a column about the New Year and all its endless possibilities … but, St. Benedict was a brilliant, inspired man. So, perhaps we can learn a little bit from his words.

Just the other day, I came across this commentary that seems to hit the proverbial nail right on its head...

“Benedict’s point is not to entertain morbid thoughts around the prospect of our death, but rather to attend differently to our lives.

“We must try to strip off the illusion that the fountain of youth is there in the medicine cabinet, the pantry or the workout room.

“If only we would choose to eat right, take supplements, and run, run, run, we might live forever!”

Each of us owes the Universe one death, there's just no escaping it. No combination of brussels sprouts, crossfit sessions and visits to GNC can make us immortal.

However, if we take a moment every now and then to ponder the fact of our mortality, perhaps years like 2016 wouldn't seem quite so bad.

If we remind ourselves what a precious gift our lives are, perhaps we'll cherish them all the more.

Looking Ahead

It would be easy to enter 2017 with a negative attitude after all the tragedy of 2016

Celebrity deaths aside, there were terror attacks galore, an incredibly contentious presidential election … maybe even a return to the Cold War.

It's enough to make even the most optimistic person pause and seriously consider volunteering for Elon Musk's first rocket ship to Mars.

Even so, I still find myself excited for the New Year. I'm making a list of resolutions and I'm keeping it simple in the hopes that they'll stick.

January 1 is the perfect day to take that first step down a new life-path. And, it's important to remember that changes don't have to be radical.

My own resolutions, taken singly, don't seem all that earth-shattering. Taken together, though, I hope that they'll lead to a happier, healthier, more fulfilling existence.

At the top of my list are better eating habits, which my family has been yelling about for years. While I won't be eating salads for lunch anytime soon, I shall try my best to cut back on Dr. Pepper, pizza, greasy cheeseburgers, fries and cupcakes (see photo).

I will also yield to peer pressure and return to the gym.

As I discovered after an injury-riddled 2016 baseball season, I'm not the young pup I once was and need to take better care of myself.

I'll look to add a bit more pop to my fastball, a little more snap to my curve and a tad more bite to my sinker. Batters beware!

Finally, I shall redouble my efforts at getting around Wayne County in search of interesting stories for my weekly “Wanderings.”

So, here's wishing you and yours a Happy New Year! Thanks as always for reading and I look forward to seeing you during my travels.