New beginnings, old memories, and plentiful potential

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives … not looking for flaws but for potential.”

Ellen Goodman, American journalist, syndicated columnist, speaker, commentator and Pulitzer Prize winner

“I have a vision that this new year is going to be a perfect year,” a good friend offered over coffee this week. “I agree that 2020 looks like it has some potential,” I responded. Then, expecting bits of insight in the areas of economics, politics, and advancements in society, I added. “But tell me, on what are you basing your optimistic view?”

“This year is going to be 2020,” was my friend’s reply. “And that’s perfect vision, right?”

“Playing on the dates can be amusing,” I replied. “Do you remember 1961, the only year in our lifetime that reads correctly, no matter which way you turn it?” The blank stare on his face reminded me of something I often forget, that I was talking to someone who was not of “my” lifetime, but someone younger than me. That’s a group that is becoming an alarmingly larger segment of society these days. 

My grandchildren who will graduate from high school in 2020 are not old enough to remember the last new year with a date that created controversy and conversation. I spent several years envisioning the arrival of 2000 anticipating the excitement of welcoming a new year, a new decade, a new century, and the fun of writing a number on a check with lots of zeros. Many believed that 2000 was going to usher in havoc in the form of massive computer shutdowns and calendar confusion. Some even thought that it heralded the end of time.

However, 2000 came and went as just another year without much more fanfare than the coining of a new term to define the century, although the moniker Y2K that rang in the century now rings a little archaic itself. 

And, Father Time is about to deliver 2020, a year in which I rarely write a check anymore but use something not heard of in 2000—a debit card. I guess it affords me the opportunity to spend more time these days wondering, “where does the time go,” reflecting on both 1961 and 2000 in my rear-view mirror.

Reflecting on that rearward view and dreaming about what’s ahead in the way of fresh starts fuels a frantic rush of resolutions every year speculating, as Ellen Goodman said, as to where we need to be patching the cracks for next year. I’ve never been big on resolutions. It’s just too much work for things in which I have to invest a whole week working on before admitting what I knew at the outset—this ain’t gonna work any better than it did last year. 

But, many years of struggling with resolutions have enlightened me as to the best way for ringing in the new year. Again, Ellen Goodman’s wisdom rings loud and clear and her words resonated loudly with me as I’m crossing the last few days of the year and the decade off the calendar: “… we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives … not looking for flaws but for potential.”

 I hope this new decade that is amazingly already 20 years into the new century, holds the best of new beginnings, old memories, and plentiful potential for each of us. Happy new year and best wishes for a magical decade and beyond, regardless of your vision or which direction you turn the numbers.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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