Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Out with the Aughts

I'll toast the end of 2009 tomorrow night, and I'm quite ready to do so. This has been a challenging year, and as I type that, I realize it's a matter of perspective. When I look at what others face, I quickly realize that, well... “I ain't got it so bad.”

Besides the end of year, it's also the end of the decade. Has it actually been ten years since we held our collective breath while the clock struck midnight on December 31, 1999 and waited for the entire information platform to collapse? While the world was watching it happen to the nanosecond, I was fortunate enough to be standing next to Old Faithful waiting to welcome in the new year, decade, century and millennium within fifteen minutes of midnight, give or take, with the eruption of the world's most famous geyser. Time really is relative.

To my great fortune, I had good health through the decade and no tragedies... other than the national one we shared on September 11, 2001. Ironically, a plane-related attempted terrorist attack is ushering out the aughts. Thankfully, the operative word in this case is “attempted.”

The war on terror as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan marked the decade. Political divisiveness seems to have become as bad as I've seen it in my life. I pray the “teens” see an end to both. Steroids invaded baseball; there continued to be no Triple Crown winner; and the Miami Dolphins perfect season record still stands. Mark Spitz's long-time record for most gold medals in a single Olympic Games finally fell. Ken Jennings set a record for consecutive wins on Jeopardy that may never be equaled.

The global warming debate raged on, and in the waning hours of the aughts, there's question as to the accuracy of the data. I don't debate the existence of climate change; however, I think we need more information regarding its cause. Whether or not human activity impacts climate change, we've done a poor job as stewards for the environment and the planet. Hopefully the “teens” see an improvement on that front as well.

Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast as well as parts of Florida before it arrived in New Orleans. The 2005 hurricane season was one for the record books. Storms were named with Greek letters by the end of the season. To my personal disappointment, Hurricane Wilma devastated the Dolphin Research Center. To my deepest admiration, they fully recovered.

We bid good-bye to countless famous and infamous folks throughout the aughts. My extended family endured a loss, and with it, there is a bit less laughter and the Nittany Lions lost a staunch fan. Sadly, I bid personal farewell to my beloved Siamese cat, Nike... often referred to as “the little brown beast from hell.” Despite my sorrow, I know I was lucky to share my life with such a pet for nearly twenty years.

And to my deepest dismay, I saw the demise of my long-time company toward the end of the decade. Not only was I faced with a career crisis, I watched a great team of colleagues be dismantled. The result forced me and many friends into joblessness. Some have recovered; some are still searching. I'm on a new path now, but full success is yet to be realized. And the person most important in my life also unexpectedly ended up in the unemployment line. Happily, he's bounced back and is on a new and challenging career path.

With that said, I realize that, for me, the single greatest event of the decade occurred just after my return from watching Old Faithful blow in the aughts and new millennium. I crossed paths with the person who's become most important in my life, and we've shared a great decade. That's the ray of sunshine I'll keep in my heart while toasting away 2009… and the aughts.

Bring on the teens…!

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