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THE LAST 20 YEARS ANDWHAT THEY MEAN FOR 2020 WHAT WILL THE NEXT DECADE BRING?
I feel like I say this every year, but boy, did it go fast. As I prepare to bid 2019 goodbye, it occurs to me that we aren’t just closing the door on another year but a whole decade. A lot has changed since 2009, and even more since 1999. And, of course, none of it happened the way anyone expected. Thinking back to when we were on the cusp of the new millennium, we were so worried everything was going to come crashing down. The Y2K fever seems so strange it’s almost funny in hindsight. In this age of software updates and cloud computing, the idea that a computer couldn’t figure out the date seems ridiculous — but the internet was young then, and many programmers legitimately feared the “00” in the year 2000 would be a problem. Of course, banks didn’t crash, transportation networks didn’t fail, and society didn’t revert back to hunters and gatherers. We slid into the new millennium without so much as a hiccup, only to be utterly surprised nearly a decade later. Unlike Y2K, the crash of 2007–2008 didn’t have its doomsayers. A few scattered outsiders tried to raise the alarm, but they went almost completely unnoticed. In retrospect, the cracks were there if one looked hard enough, but doing so would mean going against decades of market trends and the general optimism of the mid 2000s. Unlike 1999, 2009 wasn’t spent fearing that the sky was going to fall; it was spent pulling ourselves out of the wreckage. From these decades comes a sobering lesson: We can’t always know what’s going to happen. Whether it was an Armageddon that never came to pass or the so-called “impossible” crash of the housing market, popular wisdom has steered us wrong time and again. It’s easy to look at the past and be pessimistic about the future. But positive changes have taken place, too. You just have to dig a little deeper. At the end of last year, my mother had a very serious health condition. Eventually, because of circulation issues, a wound she sustained developed necrosis. Thus, 2019 was a very trying year for us. At times, there was even active talk about amputation — that is, until we pursued a new skin-grafting procedure.
Using her own DNA, doctors were able to treat my mother’s condition, and it’s looking like we can breathe easy for the first time in 12 months. This procedure didn’t exist a decade ago, and I shudder to think what would have happened back then. Advances in modern medicine may well have saved her life. We don’t always notice the good that comes with the passage of time. The bad will always be brought to us easily enough, but make no mistake, the good is out there. Shortly before writing this, my mother celebrated her 88th birthday. No matter what the future brings, I’ll know I can always look back on that memory and smile. So, what will the future bring? Plenty of good, bad, and everything in between. The nature of these changes might surprise us, but at least that is nothing new. You know what they say, hindsight is 2020.
Here’s to the new year,
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