Forward-looking, forward-thinking

I have always enjoyed riding roller coasters.

The pit that forms in your stomach as you climb a steep hill and the thrill as that pit jumps into your throat as you rush down the other side of the hill is something I’ve always enjoyed.

Roller coasters are not something you ever look back on, though.

You get through the high hills, the sharp turns, the loops, and you dismount once you have arrived back at your beginning destination.

I think this is the best way to put 2020 into context.

2020 was a roller coaster.

On a national and worldwide scale, a global pandemic, worldwide conversation about long-standing racial inequality throughout the globe, and turbulent elections that rocked not just the United States but many other countries made 2020 a year of intense news cycles and often-divisive dinner conversations.

That doesn’t even begin to address what life was like locally, where the year brought financial stress for many, illness and even death to many families, and, of course, plenty of political divisiveness to any and all conversation.

Rather than mull around in the muck that was 2020, I prefer to remember the “chute drill” from college football.

A player, typically a lineman, would get into his three-point stance at the far end of a square chute of iron bars that stood roughly 5’ tall. A coach or teammate would be waiting with a pad to hit at the end of the chute.

The goal was to fire off the ball forward instead of standing up. If you got too far up before the end of the chute, your head hit one of those iron bars, and iron bar plus helmet makes for a very resonating noise within the helmet (obviously I didn’t ALWAYS clear the chute).

This past year is a good one to keep what we learned and move forward, and do so quickly, much like you would from a roller coaster or through that chute drill.

There’s no reason to dwell on 2020 or the things that upset us through the year that was. Instead, we can focus on the thrill of the next hill by looking forward and planning our next step to avoid banging our head on the iron with forward-thinking.

No reason to look back.

There’s a reason I’ve never ridden a roller coaster in reverse.


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