At midnight on December 31, we get another chance... a new beginning that comes with the new year.
The truly idealistic might say that people have that chance every morning; that every day is a new opportunity for changing directions. That's true, of course, but the clear line in the sand that we draw at midnight every New Year's Eve is somehow different.
Drawing that line, and taking a deliberate mental step across, is the epitome of hope - and if ever there was a place that needs it, it's New Orleans, because this is what happens when people have no hope.
Mental health professionals say this city appears to be experiencing a sharp increase in suicides in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and interviews and statistics suggest that the rate is now double or more the national and local averages.
New Orleans needs to be able to believe in tomorrow, and in itself. Its people have to feel that they're not forgotten - that everything is not lost.
To find that ember and fan it to life, those of us who love the city also have to believe - which is why we're spending New Year's in NOLA this year.
Because I believe.