Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

December 10, 2020
Anxious to get rid of 2020, don’t overlook the good

I’ve read many posts on social media from friends anxious for 2020 to come to a close.

Locally there was the COVID-19 pandemic, the Magna earthquake, smoke from western wildfires that reached Utah, protests and social unrest that touched ground in Salt Lake City, and at least one big windstorm that blew trampolines to neighbor’s yards, along with a few other things I probably forgot.

I found more than one website with a numbered list of global bad things that happened this year. 

Other than the above list of local things, the website lists included airplane crashes in Iran and Pakistan that left 273 people dead, the death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter accident, a deadly explosion in Beirut that killed at least 157 people and left over 6,000 injured, Australian bushfire that affected more than half of all Australians, 400,000 people that fled their homes in Indonesian flooding, the eruption of a Philippine volcano, communal riots in Delhi with a death toll of 53 people, an East African swarm of locusts, and a gas plant explosion in Nigeria.

I can see why people are anxious to put this year behind them.

While I mourn with those that lost a loved one to COVID-19, or lost a job or home or business or livelihood to the economic fallout from the pandemic, I always admire those that while deeply touched by tragedy are still able to remain positive and find a way to pull something good out of the bad.

I’m not always capable of that kind of attitude. I have probably missed opportunities for life lessons in my choice to remain bitter and sad.

I remember a man I knew who lost his son in a car accident. 

His son was driving on a winding canyon road and was met head on around one curve by a car in the wrong lane. 

His son died, the driver of the wrong lane vehicle survived. He invited that driver to his son’s funeral where he met him with a big open arm hug and uttered “I forgive you.”

Don’t know if I could do that.

There’s an old Scoutmaster’s minute that I heard once as a young Scout. 

I retold the story many times as an adult leader. The version I tell now is probably a far cry from the original, but it still has the same message.

It goes this: there was a man that owned a service station — you can tell right here that this story is old. A service station is what we now call a gas station or a convenience store with gas pumps. 

In the old days, these places provided service. They had a mechanic who could fix your car on the spot for a price. When you pulled in for gas a guy came out and filled your tank, washed your windshield, checked your oil and tire pressure, and topped off the water in your radiator.

Anyway, there was this man who owned a service station on a lonely long stretch of highway between two small towns on the plains of the Midwest.

The service station was the only one between the two towns, it had been strategically placed in such a location that people traveling between the two towns had to stop there to fill up with gas so they could make their journey — those old cars were guzzlers and gas was cheap.

One afternoon, a family in a station wagon pulled in from the east. 

While the owner of the gas station was pumping gas, the driver of the vehicle asked, “We’re on our way to the next town. Our family is moving there, my work is relocating me. Do you know what kind of town it is? What are the people that live there like?”

“What were the people like in the town you left?” asked the owner.

“It was a miserable place,” the driver answered. “Nobody would lift a hand to help a neighbor. People were always arguing and backbiting, not friendly at all.”

“Well, I’m afraid that’s what you will find in your new town,” said the owner.

And the driver drove off with his family.

About an hour later, another family pulled in, from the same town to the east, headed to the same place.

While the owner of the gas station was pumping gas, the driver of the vehicle asked, “We’re on our way to the next town. Our family is moving there, my work is relocating me. Do you know what kind of town it is? What are the people that live there like?”

“What were the people like in the town you left?” asked the owner.

“It was a great place,” the driver answered. “We’re going to miss it. We loved the town. Our neighbors were like family, people looked for each other.”

“Well, that’s what you will find in your new town,” said the owner.

And the driver drove off with his family.

The owner of the service station provided two totally different descriptions of the same town.

Why? 

Because he knew that our attitudes often create our own environment. We reap what we sow. If we sow kindness and love it returns to us.

Or in other words, as another wise man taught me, “We find what we look for, or at least what we look at.”

We decide what we look for and what we look at. Focus on good and you will see it. Search for good and you will find it.

Although I too am anxious to put 2020 behind me and look forward to a new year, before we discard 2020 let’s make sure we have found the good that was in it, before we cast it aside like tailings from a smelter.

tgillie@tooeletranscript.com

 

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