Each December we reflect on our journey from the past year with all its twists and turns and with great optimism look forward to the opportunities and promise that lie ahead in the coming New Year. Typically we start by making some kind of promise or resolution to ourselves in the form of increased exercise or by embarking on something more “self-focused” to make us a new and better version of ourselves. However, I’m sure like you, it doesn’t take long before life gets in the way and our best intentions are often put on the back burner only to be reset each month until we run out of months and it becomes next year’s resolution once again. The exercise I wanted to do, the book I wanted to read, the one I wanted to write, the trip I wanted to take, or just the simple pleasure of playing more golf or tennis seems to always fall under the category of “Things to do tomorrow,” only tomorrow has already been filled with ”Things that can’t wait another day!”
This year has been different. In looking back over the past year, in particular, it has been one where I feel we’ve all had a blaring horn in our face the entire time. If it isn’t the political parties blaming each other for the divisiveness going on in the country, it is the round the clock media coverage each claiming the other is biased, while giving you their jaded view. Try having a conversation with someone before it turns into political dialogue and even if you agree it is typically emotionally filled. Add the Coronavirus to the mix, and the impact it has had on all of us, and you find yourself saying, “I’m so glad 2020 is over.”
While to some that may seem like a welcome relief, I thought, “How sad?” We just took one valuable year out of our lives and said, “Let’s throw it away.” I’ve gone through many trying periods in my life, but I never wanted to throw away an entire year, as despite the challenges and difficulties there were lessons learned that have benefitted me throughout my life.
People ask me all the time what my thoughts have been this past year and why I seem so calm as a result. My faith in God has been the main reason for me to remain somewhat at peace amid the media chaos however, I have always tended to look at things from a common-sense perspective. I don’t feel the need to be heard, or for my opinion to outweigh those of others. I find as I’ve gotten older there is more wisdom in listening than projecting an opinion and somewhere along the way common sense becomes even more clear despite what the media critics have to say.
Since Covid began I’ve seen it bring out the best and worst in some people. Some are doing their best to support those struggling through these challenging times by supporting their businesses, bringing food to those in need, or just staying in touch, letting them know there is someone who cares. Others haven’t been quite so gracious, never embodying the desire to share or step aside to help others. Some have become depressed from the lack of social interaction while others maintained their sense of humor. In a post I read the other day, a man by the name of Bernie posted, “I told my wife post Covid I will take her anywhere in the world. I’m holding up a map of the world in the kitchen and told her to throw a dart and wherever it lands, we would go…..Apparently we are going to spend two weeks behind the refrigerator!” For me, it has been a time to reflect on what is important in life and realize how fortunate we are.
Since this pandemic began we’ve seen a tremendous influx of people moving to Florida, finally realizing what we have been blessed with for so long, “water, warmth, and way of life,” a phrase I credit to a friend, public speaker, and respected Realtor Denny Grimes. Since January of last year, we were hearing stories of those looking to escape the inclement weather and high taxes in the north. However, when the pandemic hit it facilitated a mass movement of those looking to escape the densely populated areas and where commuting via mass transit was a way of life. With the realization, it was now possible to work remotely and transition from the rat race to a better quality of life, these “new Floridians” were about to discover what we have oftentimes taken for granted. As a Realtor, we are typically one of the first points of contact for those looking to relocate to our beautiful state. To see the look of almost disbelief on their faces that they have arrived at what many call “paradise,” and no longer have to make the dreaded journey back north in a few short weeks, has been one of my most gratifying experiences and one I find so hard to put into words. Before long they usually share with me how friendly everyone is, how people are always outside enjoying each other’s company, and how clean our highways and stores are kept, things we oftentimes take for granted. Isn’t it funny how those of us who lived in the north often say when returning from a trip back home say, “How did we ever want to live in that environment?
As I look at the changes I want to make in myself this year I’m often amazed at the wisdom and futuristic foresight that writers of the 1940’s and 1950’s such as Ayn Rand, (Atlas Shrugged), George Orwell (“Nineteen Eighty-Four), and Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) documented in their writings. Many of the scenarios they envisioned we are living in today. For those who have read these books and other similar themed writings look at the tug of war and name-calling going on in our nation’s capital and the controlling influence of social media with little or no surprise. While others may feel they are on a runaway train they can do nothing about, my resolution is not to panic and assume the role of the victim, but to incorporate the lessons learned from these writings so I can take the emotion out of the “news of the day,” and interact with those I meet from a common-sense perspective and help preserve those special attributes that have made our community and those we share it with so special. Future generations are watching, as well as those moving to our communities. Hopefully the difference I make in myself will inspire others to do the same and instead of talking at each other we can speak with one another and enjoy this wonderful quality of life we’ve come to call home.