I recently wrote a diary about Christmas, so I thought I’d write one about New Years as well, because I saw an inspiring example of courage on television.

We went to Texas to spend New Years eve with a couple who are old friends. We’ve spent many New Years eves with them. We basically have dinner, drink some champagne, and try to stay awake long enough to watch the ball descend in Times Square on TV. Since Texas is an hour earlier than New York, this starts at 10 p.m.

These evenings don’t tend to be too exciting, although there have been a few exceptions to this: I remember one year when the husband purchased some fireworks and after he lit one that resembled a small tank made of Chinese newspapers, it turned around and chased him down the street. THAT was exciting!

After we came back from the restaurant, we popped the champagne cork and turned on the TV. We were curious to see if Dick Clark was going to be there this year, since we all knew he’d had a stroke.

Another, much younger man, was acting as host for the show, but then, when we’d given up all hope of seeing the familiar face of Dick Clark, suddenly there he was, wishing us all a happy New Year. His voice was slurred and it was clear that he was struggling to speak.

At first I wanted to turn away from the screen in embarrassment for him, but then I thought, “That could have been me!” I realized I should admire his courage?for not giving up, for trying to come back.

Not everyone does make the effort: a good friend of mine has basically given up and taken to her bed, becoming an invalid. Years ago, when I could see she was getting ready to do this, I warned her, “You’re a troublesome person and most of the people you know will be just as glad they don’t have to deal with you anymore. But I like you, so I’m telling you the truth?don’t give up!” But she did and her voice and presence have gradually faded out of my life. All I have left are my memories of her.

So this diary is a toast to Clark and to everyone, everywhere, who struggles to come back from a serious setback, whether it’s physical, mental, emotional or economic. It’s a brave thing to do. Years ago, I came up with a definition for what I think courage is. It’s not charging into battle with your gun drawn (although that can be courageous too), it’s accepting the situation you find yourself in and doing the best you can. This is something ordinary people do every day.

If you need to be brave right now, this is a wish that you’ll find the courage you need in 2007.

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