“I heard someone say, ‘It’s December! Maybe 2020 saved the best for last.’ I’m not sure whether to be hopeful or nervous about that.”― Steve Marabol, speaker, bestselling author, and behavioral science academic.
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Searching for wit, wisdom, and hope in 700 words or less for my last column of the year, I quickly found myself at a loss about where to start. As we prepare to usher 2020 out to make way for 2021, my only conscious thought was, “Where does one even begin to look to find hope for better?”
Doing what writers often do when trying to figure out where to begin, I looked back on what I penned last year as 2019 was about to fade away. That column started by quoting an acquaintance. “I have a vision that this new year is going to be a perfect year,” a good friend offered over coffee last week. “I agree that 2020 looks like it has some potential,” I responded to him. Then, expecting bits of insight into economics, politics, or advancements in society, I added. “But tell me, on what are you basing your optimistic view?”
“This year is going to be 2020, and that’s perfect vision, right,” was his witty response.” For 2021, that same friend has offered no sage sayings so far. And that seems perfectly understandable given the bust that 2020 turned out to be.
Reviewing one’s past performance is always a fun and educational exercise. Some of my work has aged pleasingly as “masterpieces in my own mind,” while time has exposed the weaknesses of others. Then there are those prophetic pieces that make one think, “Had I only known.” That was my thought after reading one from last November when I wrote, “It was especially fun last Sunday as I watched a 78-year-old steam locomotive roll through the small East Texas berg of Hallsville headed for its next stop in Marshall. Steam spewing from enormous pistons to the rhythm of their “chug-chug” power thrusts and the massive locomotive’s haunting horn heralding its presence delighted crowds lining both sides of the track for miles.”
Revisiting that memory more than a year later, it occurred to me that had we an inkling then, those words might have offered a hint of the year just around the bend. Fortunately, the Union Pacific 4014 about which I was writing, also known as the “Big Boy,” completed its journey around the country and back to Wyoming. Our nation was not so fortunate. It jumped the tracks early plunging headlong into a myriad of domestic upheaval, a CCP virus, and the train wreck of a presidential election.
Fortunately for this week’s column though, the preacher’s sermon Sunday answered my question and provided that ray of hope for which I was looking just in time to meet my deadline. Jokingly, he suggested as how the best hope for some of us who have witnessed several decades of new years might be that “at this age,” forgetfulness is an easy thing to do. Therefore, maybe we will just forget 2020 like some of us do names and faces.
On a more serious note regarding working together in spiritual matters, his lesson caused me to think of the most important thing too many have sadly forgotten over the last few decades. Whatever we hope and aspire for our nation to be in the coming year, it will be whatever we work together to make it. If our actions and expressions selfishly and mindlessly criticize it, tear it apart, and ridicule those with whom we disagree, then we are creating for ourselves a nation of discord and doom.
But let’s just hope for a moment that we can be smart enough in our collective efforts to support our great nation, build it up, defend it, and work together on strengthening it. Then maybe we can restore it to the healthy, strong, and proud country it once was. Perhaps even work our way back to a new year filled with more hope than nervousness.
And, on that hope, best wishes to all for a Happy New Year!
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