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But is it new...

Here it comes, baby, a brand-new year.

But is it really?

Let’s face it – you can say a lot about 2020, but, if nothing else, you have to admit it was pretty darn unique.

Of course, as I learned in art class as a fourth grader, “unique” isn’t always a compliment.

In 2020, we had some crazy weather, a crazy election and this still crazy, continuing pandemic. There were heartbreaks, riots, and a presidential impeachment. And that’s just a skimpy summary of what’s been going on.

It seems like a reasonable goal to want to return to a previous normal.

Or is it?

I may be the wrong one to ask. I’ve always thought normal was overrated, and when I write about the past, it’s not because I want to go back there. In the past, when I still had hair, I owed the bank a lot of money and I worked day and night with no rational plan to get it paid back, let alone how to put my kids through college. I still have no idea how we managed to get through the 80s and end up where we are today.

When I was a teenager, most people I knew were trying make sense of the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement and the fact that I didn’t want to cut my hair or shave.

When I was a small child, Black people couldn’t vote, and women weren’t supposed to have jobs - not swell times then either.

I do still love my ‘66 Chevy three-quarter ton, but I’m also a fan of the heated seats and on-board GPS in my other pickup.

Personally, some great things happened this year, including a perfect wedding, but I have no problem putting 2020 in my rearview mirror. Not because I want to go back to 2019, 1979, or 1954, but because I want to see what’s next.

Because what's next is what it’s all about. The only purpose of our past is to inform our future.

I’ve always thought January 1st was a ridiculous day to start a new year. Most people are broke and fat from the Christmas holidays, we only have about four hours of daylight, at least in Minnesota, and it can be a little difficult to see hope on the horizon. Usually, I don’t start feeling like I’m in a new year until around the first of April, about the time the dog poop starts rising to the top of the snowdrifts. The only good thing about having an official time for reflection in the middle of winter is that there’s plenty of time to stare off into the darkness and think about what’s past.

That’s okay. Go ahead and spend some time, just a little time, thinking about what’s past. Looking back at a year as unique as 2020 could make you smile, make you cry, and if you’re at all thoughtful, not to mention honest with yourself, there will be lessons you can learn going forward.

After you’re done reflecting, sing “Auld Lang Syne” and kiss your sweetie at midnight. Sleep in a little the next day, but then get busy. There’s a whole new year approaching, and we don’t have time to waste thinking about what’s past.

What’s next is what matters.

Copyright 2020 Brent Olson