Sloan Column: Putting 2020 in perspective
I have always been a glass half full kind of guy. Even in a gallon of gloom, there is always an ounce of hope to be savored.
Way back in the early 1990s, a furry little tennis Adonis named Andre Agassi made a commercial for Canon. In the ad, the teen heartthrob looks straight into the camera with his dreamy brown eyes and boldly utters the company’s three-word slogan – “Image is everything.”
I was convinced then and am ever more convinced now that I have another 30 or so years under my belt that Andre and Canon had it wrong – completely wrong. Image is not everything. Far from it. Perspective, in my humble view dear friends, is everything. They way we look at things and the way we respond to them makes all the difference in the world.
The past year has provided us with an exceedingly grand example of the power of perspective.
As we prepare to enter a new year, there will be sighs of relief followed by shouts of “Thank God that’s over.” For many, 2021 could not have arrived any sooner. The world is ready to turn the page and begin a new chapter, one without COVID-19, a presidential campaign season and election that established new standards for political foolishness, tragic deaths, racial unease, or a growing and misguided cynicism toward law enforcement.
I can’t argue with a single soul the fact that the past 365 days probably lean more toward the worst of times rather than the best of times, to borrow a phrase from Charles Dickens.
In spite of all that, 2020 did have some bright moments. In fact, there numerous reasons we can look back fondly on the last 12 months.
A very brief search of the Internet brought these noteworthy moments from the year growing ever smaller in our rearview mirrors:
• A Utah brewery paid off an entire elementary school’s student lunch debt.
• After a woman was hit by an SUV in New York City, a group of people rushed to lift the car off of her. Thanks to their selfless heroics, the woman survived.
• A 78-member medical team worked together to separate conjoined twins in Nigeria.
• An intrepid college student invented a 3-D printer for chocolate.
• Texas Roadhouse CEO Wayne Taylor gave up his salary and bonus incentive for the year to pay employees whose jobs were impacted by the pandemic.
• A baby was born from a 27-year-old embryo.
• At the age of 12, Grace Moore became one of the youngest composers for the New York Philharmonic.
• An Air Force veteran turned nine acres of land in North Carolina into a “healing farm” to help other veterans feel less isolated and alone as they readjust to civilian life.
• One man paid the bill of the car behind him in a Minnesota Dairy Queen drive-thru and sparked a pay-it-forward train that lasted for 900-plus cars, spanning two full days.
• A Spanish startup created a “piano” made out of plants—that, yes, actually plays music.
• Robert Carter, a single dad, adopted five siblings so that they could remain together.
There are tons of other positive stories from the past year. Many, many good things happened around the world, in our nation and state, in our communities, and, yes, even in our personal lives, yet we focus on all the bad things that happened.
I, for one, will not look back on the last year as being a total waste. I will not dwell on the negative. When the clocks strikes midnight on Thursday I will raise a glass half full, bidding farewell to a year which could easily have been far worse and march forward into the coming year with a positive outlook.
Perspective is everything.