Like clockwork, New Years Day follows Christmas every year by just one week. One week to clear the cobwebs and clutter of Christmas from your brain and prepare to start a new year. Diann and I were just talking the other day about how, although it makes no real sense, we both view New Years as kind of a clean slate day.
The blackboard, or in a more modern and updated classroom, the whiteboard, has been cleared and cleaned, the erasers dusted, and we are ready to start a new term.
As we do, it is not uncommon to look back at the term we finished. To carry the classroom analogy forward, to look back and see what kind of grades we earned.
Every so often, about every ten years or so, we reach the end, not only of a year, but of a decade.
Ten years ago, we got to watch a day, a year, a decade, a century and a millennium all come to an end at once, and we started anew, with clean slates.
We entered the decade I fondly refer to as the "Zeros".
Looking back at that New Years Eve, ten years ago, I am amazed at the journey of the last ten years.
If life is High School. then the 'zeros' were, for me, the equivalent of Advanced Placement College Prep Calculus. And I think maybe I entered the class immediately from Remedial Math.
At the end of 1999, I had just got a new job, in fact, I was hired on Dec 23, and told to take the holidays off.
Christmas was a Friday, so I was to report to work Monday Dec 28.
I got a phone call over the weekend, and Monday morning had me at the airport at 5:00 AM to fly across the county, to Arizona to be precise. I was to pick up a brand new truck, and drive it back to Michigan.
It was late afternoon, on the 28th before I had my paperwork done, my truck keys in my hand, and was ready to head out.
This was the year of the Y2K scare, so there was no way of knowing, if at midnight on Dec 31, all of the fuel pumps, ATM's and even traffic lights would still be working, so we were all advised to find a place to park early on the 31st and not drive anywhere until we were sure that things were working. Nobody knew exactly what would happen at midnight that day, but we were all cautioned that anything could happen, and warned to be prepared for the worst.
So, I had a little over 48 hours to drive, and I was just over 2000 miles from home. Federal law at the time would allow me to drive 10 hours, then I had to stop for 8 hours. Scheduling that trip normally, I would schedule it for a four day trip. But I put my mind to it, didn't stop for anything except necessities and allowed myself no distractions. I pushed myself as had as I could safely and legally push, (and occasionally a bit harder) and I arrived home in Michigan at about 7 PM New Years Eve. Together, Diann and I watched Y2K arrive safely and happily.
I share this story, not for congratulations or sympathy, but because that trip kind of set the scene and the mood for the next ten years.
Diann and I were married 4 months later, and the next decade, the 'zeros' was filled with a series of impossible tasks that loomed before us. All too often, we had unrealistic expectations placed on us and inflexible deadlines imposed, with little or no knowledge of what would happen if we missed a deadline.
But we had learned that if we set our minds to it, didn't allow for any distractions, didn't stop for anything but necessities, pushed ourselves as hard as we could safely push, we could accomplish anything, overcome anything, and make it home safe. If we face obstacles together, we can watch the problems come, and go, and be safe and happy.
It's a good thing we learned that lesson, because the zeros were filled with our fair share of challenges and trials. We had a roller coaster ride of health, financial, spiritual, emotional highs and lows. It was a wild ride, with twists and turns and surprises around every corner, yet here we are, ready to face another new year, together, safe and happy.
I wonder what tomorrow, next year, the next decade will bring?
Whatever it is, I am glad that I have the friends and family that I do, to help me along the way.
I am thankful that I have the companion that I have, making the ride with me.
Good Bye Zeros!