Welcome to 2021. Now take a deep breath.

No doubt about it, 2020 earned its place in history. Wearing masks (and arguing about it) has gotten old. Waiting in line to get into the supermarket has lost its anxious charm. Christmas last month wasn’t quite the same without my family’s annual party (the first time we haven’t held one in my lifetime). Given the number of older relatives, we just couldn’t risk it. Yes, 2020 earned its place in history — right up there with other years lost to pandemics, plagues and pestilence (I’m looking at you, 1918).

To keep my head up through 2020, I counted blessings. I work from home and have a home to work from. I have my health. I have a job and a paycheck. I have a next meal to look forward to — even if I had to wait to get into the grocery store to buy it or wait curbside for takeout. I have friends and family who have all so far dodged the ravages of Covid-19. I’m fortunate.

You know what? You’re probably fortunate, too. If you’re reading this, you made it through the worst year most of us remember. Congratulations. I suggest you count your blessings, if you haven’t already. You may have lost loved-ones or friends. You may have seen your business suffer, or even had to idle some of your best people. You may have even gotten sick, and recovered. But, if you’re reading this, it’s the New Year. You have your health and that driller ingenuity. You can take the wreckage of 2020 and put the pieces together into a shiny, new 2021.

Don’t get me wrong. This pandemic isn’t done with us yet. Here in Michigan, and in many other places across the U.S., our hospitals face a tough January and February as cases spike following the holidays. For some folks, wanting to see family to celebrate the season overwhelms safety concerns. I weigh things differently. But, facts are facts: When people get together, the pandemic often makes the guest list. However, widespread availability and use of the coming vaccines could mean this is the last spike.

I hope so, as does everyone reading this.

Now, I didn’t get a degree in epidemiology or economics. I don’t know what the first quarter holds. I can’t see the second quarter off in the distance just yet. But, I am optimistic for the first time in months. My instincts tell me that enough people will get vaccinated by the end of the first quarter to make a difference. I think masks and social distancing will most likely last through the second quarter, at least until the vast majority of us “get our jabs,” as the British say. With a little luck and a huge concerted effort (globally, not just in the U.S.), I expect life to settle into a “new” normal by the end of the second quarter. I don’t yet know what changes we endured will become permanent. No one does. But things will more or less get back on track.

In the meantime, revisit those blessings. Consider the challenges you overcame in 2020. Maybe you pushed through the grief of losing a family member, close friend or coworker. Maybe your business suffered. Maybe you’re tired of cooking at home just want to eat in a damn restaurant again — a minor, but real challenge for those who like to support local businesses. Whatever your challenges may be, unless this year’s killer feature is Biblical-style locusts, nothing 2021 throws at us can come close to 2020. We’ve seen it and (just about) come through the other side.

I invite you to share in my optimism.

What do you think? Are you looking up for 2021? Let me know. Send an email to verduscoj@bnpmedia.com.

Stay safe out there, drillers.

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