One of the greatest movie lines in the last 50 years comes from the 1976 movie Network. “Stand up, wherever you are, go to the nearest window, AND YELL AS LOUD AS YOU CAN, I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE.” I think we all feel that way when it comes to the incessant cell phone calls trying to sell us an extended car warranty (for cars we don’t own anymore) or “Nigerian princes” trying to wire us money (all they need is our social security and bank account numbers). But that’s not the worst thing right now, is it?
We’re a few days from the election, and I’m so tired of the relentless politicking. You can’t watch a football game or The World Series without being inundated with ads. I counted four in a row the other night, then 5 minutes of football and then three more. I was tempted to go to my window as the character Howard Beale suggested, roll it up, and stick out my head and scream those famous words.
The real world shows us COVID-19 case counts are rising around the country, and winter is coming (at least that’s what they tell me).
A stimulus deal to help the folks who are scraping by seems stalled. Markets are down (and up and down).
When we take a look at 2020, it’s easy to see it as a long string of disasters, one after another. The year has exacted a terrible price of lives cut short, and dreams shattered.
For many, it’s hard to find anything to be optimistic about.
But what if we look for the good stuff that happened as well?
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember the good things because they slip in quietly and often go unnoticed, unlike the bad news, which announces itself loudly, instantly, and overwhelmingly.
What if we paused to ask: what good has come to my life because of this year?
I’m grateful for the additional time spent with Jamie and my kids. It’s easy to get caught up in the shuffle of work, school, activities, travel, and everything else. I’m glad we had the opportunity to slow down and make each other our refuge. Our kids were mediocre (at best) bike riders pre-COVID but they have gotten much better after the dozens of family bike rides we’ve taken during this time.
I also see many of my co-workers taking advantage of this time to reconnect with those most important to them. I’m hoping you did as well.
I’m also grateful for this year’s stock, bond, and gold markets. Given we have had 35 million people lose their jobs (and only a portion have gotten them back), a breathtaking 30%+ fall in the stock averages in roughly three weeks, and us still having to wear masks to get our groceries, you would have expected the market to be down and down a lot. It’s not. And if you’ve been with us for over a year, the overwhelming majority, if not all, would have positive returns.
Things could have been a lot worse financially for all of us, which would have made this whole lockdown that much more painful. Our goal in any downward volatility is to soften or cushion the blow our clients feel. I am thankful we have been able to do that this year.
I developed a new appreciation for many of those little things that I might not have noticed a year ago. I also enjoyed watching people become friendlier with a wave or a simple “good morning,” as we all come to grips with what we have had to endure for eight seemingly never-ending months.
I think we’ve all realized that there are many important jobs that people do that we don’t always notice. How important did we find shelf stockers at Publix or food delivery drivers in the past few months? It shows that we all have our roles to play and that each job is essential for making our lives better.
I believe our grand experiment in working from home is going to yield significant benefits to our society. I’ve seen many of our clients who were usually resistant to technology embrace it and flourish in the new “normal.” If you told me a year ago that I would have held dozens and dozens of video calls (WebEx, Zoom, etc.) with clients, I would have thought you were crazy.
I believe it shows that we all can adapt, make changes, and even thrive in whatever situation we are thrown into. It’s the story of our country and its history as well as its citizens. Give us lemons, and we’ll make lemonade (or during COVID, maybe limoncello). It’s how we will defeat COVID and take its lessons and create a better tomorrow for ourselves.