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The Rough Notes Company Inc.



October 22
07:28 2020

It would be easy enough to list the top five reasons why 2021 needs to get here already. Instead, our writer takes a different approach and shares what he appreciates from 2020.


When the world seems weirder than we could imagine, let’s focus on what’s good

By Michael Wayne

This is my second attempt at writing this article. The first was killed after two paragraphs by the highly dreaded “Blue Screen of Death.” I shall refrain from sharing the vulgarities here, but to quote Ralph describing his old man’s tussle with the furnace in A Christmas Story, “In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenity that, as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.”

Just another gut punch, courtesy of 2020.

Writing articles such as this can be an arduous process. Importantly, I aim to develop topics that you find interesting—ones that will provide at least one kernel of knowledge or, ideally, useful wisdom. Often, a vague subject presents itself, providing a foundation on which to build. Sometimes, a great idea turns out to be a topic from a previous submission.

All of us have personal challenges we are presented with daily. Some are great, some are small, and at times some are even impossible to completely overcome.

Most depressing, however, is when illumination shines just enough to spur an original idea that wasn’t so original after all, and was published six days ago. To that end, I highly recommend that, after reading this and spending some time on the Rough Notes website, you Google “536 AD” and read why it was the worst year ever, despite the current entry’s best efforts.

At this point, I could easily pound out a “Top 5 Reasons Why 2021 Needs to Get Here Already” piece. I’m determined not to do that. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian has popped into my head and I intend to follow that advice. This may not be directly insurance related, but it feels a bit therapeutic, and I hope you will allow me some leeway. With that, here are the Top 5 Things 2020 Has Made Me More Appreciative About.

This isn’t only about the people that I occupy a house with on a daily basis. This includes my sibling, who is taking care of an aging parent with dementia nearly full-time in the wake of a pandemic that has meant unemployment. It includes my work colleagues, some of whom are now living in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, which has done unimaginable damage but has largely been forgotten because it isn’t a sexy enough story for the media to cover like Hurricane Katrina or other issues we are grappling with as a nation. My work family was there for me when I went through something similar, and I am blessed that I have been able to pay it forward.

Truthfully, I am closer to several of my friends than I am to family members. I expect that may be the case for many of you. In this era of social distancing, our group has found ways through various online platforms to have trivia nights and fantasy football drafts, and just hang out. In many ways, being able to preserve these connections have kept us grateful and even sane to a degree. A few of these friends are guys that I have known since I was 10—one since I was five. I still remember when we were that age, playing together—taking part in an occasional bout of Star Wars and dressing up as our favorite characters. In this age of mask mandates, putting on a Darth Vader costume seems almost insufferable.

One hundred years ago, in 1920, the following still had yet to be mainstays: penicillin, pop-up toasters, and radio broadcasts. The last century has provided us with marvels no one in the early 20th century could have envisioned. Heck, the last 30 years alone have provided us with the world at our fingertips. Questions our parents couldn’t answer from the front seat of a station wagon driving cross country for a family vacation—questions that just made us shrug our shoulders for lack of knowledge until we could later get to our Encyclopedia Britannica set—are now no longer unanswered mysteries thanks to smartphones. Apps have literally saved people’s lives. Certainly, there is a tradeoff, but this is a positive article.

Air conditioning
Technically, this could be lumped into the previous category. Think about this though, Willis Haviland Carrier invented the first modern air conditioner in 1902. Perfecting climate control was more important  than communication it could be argued. Interestingly enough, what drove Carrier wasn’t home comfort but the need to solve an application problem at a printing plant in New York. Ironic side note: The Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University is not air conditioned. I live in one of those areas where spring and fall almost seem to be afterthoughts in the wake of what can feel like a seven-month summer. Drying off after a shower in 100% humidity isn’t easy, and sleeping in it is unbearable. Thankfully, except for the occasional power outage, I don’t have to.

All of us have personal challenges we are presented with daily. Some are great, some are small, and at times some are even impossible to completely overcome. Regardless of your beliefs, take a moment to try and ponder everything that had to transpire to make you possible. For me, this “everything” includes the determination of a teenager to see an unwanted pregnancy through and to make the choice to put me up for adoption, and then for a family to welcome me into their home where I was loved. There may be some days when I am not as thankful as I maybe should be, but I am never ungrateful. Life isn’t easy. It takes people and things away from us cruelly and seemingly without reason, all too often unexpectedly, but it also gives us the opportunity to always improve, to be better, and to enrich the lives of those we share it with.

The fourth quarter is nearly here. It really is time to start looking toward 2021.

The author

Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.

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