Many of us near the end of a calendar year take inventory of our lives to access our present condition. We are thankful for our success during prior years and vow to avoid future failures. We also make resolutions hoping to start the new year on good footing.

Having approached three score and 10, my life experiences have taught me what is important and what is not. Those matters that in the past vexed me are no longer vexing. Those in the past that caused me a lot of worry and anxiety are no longer worrisome. Those matters that literally made me sick are no longer sickening.

In 2020, I have decided to give thanks to those who have given so much for my well-being. Expressions of thanks mean that you are aware and appreciative of a benefit. First, I am thankful for my wife of 44 years who has put up with my foibles and idiosyncrasies while being a great wife, a great mother and a doting grandmother. I am so thankful for my parents who worked so hard to ensure that their children have a better life than they had. I am thankful for my two successful children who have given my family enormous joy. I am thankful for our two granddaughters, whose energy and potential for success is limitless. I am thankful for my former teachers, professors, mentors and coaches who saw something in me that I never realized I possessed. I am thankful for my four siblings who always supported me in my many endeavors.

Two songwriters express my sentiment about thankfulness and gratitude much better than I. First, James Taylor’s song, “Shower the People you Love” informs us that we must “shower the people we love with love.” I resolve to shower all the important people in my life with love so that I will not “allow my foolish pride to cause me to be alone.”

Johnson Oatman Jr.’s song “Count your Blessings, Name Them One By One” informs us that

“upon life’s billows when you are tempest tossed, discouraged and thinking all is lost, you must count your blessings to see what God has done.”

My blessings are too numerous to detail here. I have had some disappointments in my life. However, they pale in comparison to my blessings. I now realize that “life is no crystal stair, it has tacks in it and boards torn up.”

I am very concerned about the many issues facing our country. It seems as though we are more divided now along racial and class lines than we were during the Civil War period and its aftermath. I am thankful that we have a blueprint to solve our many problems — it’s called the U.S. Constitution. I have so much respect for our Constitution. As a practicing attorney, I carried it in my jacket or in my briefcase as a reminder of its power and significance.

Finally, I resolve to be a better person this year. I will strive to become a person of good character. It is said that character is who you are inside, your moral and inner fiber. It has also been said that “character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” I view life at this stage as less about awards and recognitions and more about the soul. At this stage I realize that we are “crooked timber” and are imperfect human beings. To become better people, we must abandon the notion that we are the authors and finishers of our destiny. Whatever we have accomplished was aided by God, family, friends and being in the right place at the right time. To become a better person, I resolve to be less selfish. I resolve to be more respectful of others’ opinions. I resolve to be more honest. I resolve to be less judgmental. I resolve to be more compassionate and I resolve to be more forgiving.

These resolutions are daunting yet they are achievable. Never giving up is also character building.

Randolph Baskerville is a retired judge who resides in Henderson.