The year 2020 has been a challenge for me, you and probably most people you know. Things we never imagined could happen have become truths in our every day lives. The Coronavirus, the multiple storms, the millions of people out of work, any one of them could be a disaster for a single year.
When you start piling one disaster on top of another, then it is easy to become afraid. There are a lot of scared people in our country and in this world right now. At this point, it is natural to start blaming people for our suffering. Throw in a hyper-partisan presidential election, a deciding vote on the Supreme Court, the control of the Senate, the fate of the Affordable Care Act, and much, much more and it is easy to see how we are out of sorts with each other.
I have voted already. I now largely ignore the talking heads on every news channel. I only visit Facebook minimally, especially on items related to the election. It is only 36 days until the election. I can do without those things that only divide us.
It is in this frame of mind that I began looking for the silver linings in the dark clouds that surround us. I eat healthier, with visits to various farmers’ markets being an item on my weekly calendar. I walk five or six miles every day. I sit on my front porch and repeatedly speak to strangers as they walk by my house. How many new friends have I made in this slowed down world we live in?
I spend more quality time with my wife, whether eating lunch together on the front porch, watching long running series on Netflix, or just figuring out what to do with our time. We ride our golf cart around town. We try new foods together. Who knew I would love Vietnamese or Indian cuisine?
Out retirement is not exactly what we had planned, but we are blessed, nevertheless. We have cancelled a long-planned trip to Ireland twice, but we will get there some day. I am planning to visit Antarctica in 2022, confident this virus will have met its match by then.
Perhaps the greatest silver lining in this crazy world we live in was the fact that I got to spend most of the Summer with my mother at Compass Lake. The last time I spent 12 weeks at the lake was during my Junior high school years. My mother is 88. I am 66. What parent/child at that age gets to spend time on the dock for an entire Summer reminiscing about the past, but more importantly enjoying the present? It was a gift beyond measure.
Something like that only works with a spouse that is supportive and part of the equation. Mary Lou has known my mother since we were 12 years old. She spent days at the lake with Mom, just the two of them. It was a blessing for all of us, in so many ways.
Taking my mother back to Atlanta was bittersweet for us all. We realized we had experienced a gift, the gift of time, that would have never happened without the horrid restrictions brought about by a virus that we did not know existed less than a year ago. A silver lining, indeed.
All of us have experienced dark moments in our lives. The silver linings in those dark clouds give us hope. They give us comfort. And in my case, they resulted in an incredible gift. A Summer with my mother. Who would have ever imagined?
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org