And just like that, it’s almost 2020. Where did the year go?
I realize this year was just as long (or short) as the last one. But as I sit here on Dec. 28 with a new year and new decade just around the corner, I can’t help but feel a little bit of temporal whiplash.
Time is, after all, relative. I have several close friends who are new parents, and they like to say that while the days are long, the years are short. As I get older, a year is a smaller percentage of my overall life than it was when I was, say, 5 years old. Time speeds up when you’re having a good time or when you’re working at a community newspaper.
The end of 2019 seems more significant to me than other years, however. I assume it’s because it’s the end of the decade, a formative decade for me and one that saw our world more connected and technologically advanced than ever before, but hardly more peaceful.
It shouldn’t surprise me, I guess, in today’s conflict-driven culture, that we can’t even agree on when the decade begins. I, along with most Americans, assume the new decade begins on Jan. 1, 2020. After all, it’s the ’20s, and having 2030 as part of the 20s is just confusing.
There are those who disagree, according to a recent NPR story. There was no Year Zero, critics point out, which means that the next decade actually begins on Jan. 1, 2021. Using the shorthand ’20s, 30’s, etc. to describe decades, while handy, is inaccurate and has led to the broad assumption of this inaccuracy, they say. I think they’re probably technically correct (the best kind of correct). But I, along with most of the country, is ready to move on to a new decade. We’re eager, I think, to put the past behind us.
It’s not that the 2010s were all bad — far from it, and besides, a judgment like that is so subjective. There is something healthy about moving forward, though. That’s why Jan. 1, despite possessing no significant difference from Dec. 31 or Jan. 2, can often be the catalyst for us to make better decisions and live healthier lives.
I intend to take the time today to seriously reflect on the past decade — what did I learn? What did I experience? What do I want to do differently in the 2020s?
A lot happened in the past decade. I graduated from college; I was named editor-in-chief of my first newspaper (and eight others since); I moved to two different states; two sisters-in-law, a nephew and a niece joined the family; I taught journalism at the University of Oklahoma; I made new friends, spent a lot of quality time with old ones; read hundreds of books, watched dozens of movies and traveled across the country. There was some personal growth in there as well, I think. I learned more about myself, more about what I want and more about what I can give back to my community.
There’s also a lot I didn’t accomplish; plenty of missed opportunities, regrets and bad decisions. I think it’s important to reflect on those as well, to learn from them.
I encourage you, if you have the time, to reflect on what the past 10 years meant to you. What did you learn? What did you experience? How did you grow? What held you back? What do you want to do differently in the 2020s?
As far as New Year’s resolutions go, I’ve never been particularly good at making or keeping them. But goals are important. One of my best friends told me he sets a personal, physical and financial goal every year. I think segmenting them into categories like that can be helpful.
Regardless, I hope 2020 is a good year for you. I hope you find the motivation you’re looking for; I hope you get to spend time with people you care about; I hope you’re able to make important, lifelong memories; I hope you’re able to overcome whatever you want to overcome.
Time, after all, waits for no man or woman. The days are long, but the years are short. Make yours count.
Caleb Slinkard is the managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. He previously served as editor of two dailies and four weeklies in Oklahoma and Texas. To contact him, email [email protected].