The Good Press — Issue #47: Plans

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You know what they say about the best-laid plans… Reflecting upon our one-year “panniversary,” and what it will be like to get back to those long-delayed Plan A’s.

Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find this issue to be worth your time.

Comments and reader suggestions are always welcome.

A cloudy sky with a far horizon above trees and grass
Pondering plans and possibilities on a post-pandemic planet

Plans

Tomorrow, March 11, 2021, marks a strange, but significant anniversary.

March 11, 2020, was a Wednesday. It was also the day that married actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced that they had each tested positive for the novel coronavirus out in Australia, where they had been filming a movie.

March 11, 2020, was the same day that NBA basketball player Rudy Gobert became the first athlete in major American pro sports to test positive for the virus as well, triggering a league-wide suspension of the NBA regular season.

It’s not as if COVID-19 wasn’t present in the U.S. before that day; it was. But when sports and movies were being shut down because of “the virus” that we had heard about in the news for several months? That’s when it felt real for so many people. That was the day that our everyday lives seemed to change.

So you can call March 11, 2021, our one-year “panniversary,” perhaps. A full calendar year since the day that the pandemic changed everything. Whatever plans we had last year, chances are they got adjusted, altered, or downright scrapped. 2020 was a year of Plan B’s and C’s and D’s for us all.

And hey, if you’re reading this, you’re still here. Mission accomplished. You, me, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, and Rudy Gobert are among the lucky ones.

We never realized how many things we took for granted until many freedoms were suddenly unavailable to us in the wake of a worldwide viral pandemic.

Like… the ability to grab lunch at the diner down the block.

Or… the ability to hail a taxi or rideshare to zip us across town.

Or… the ability to hug loved ones and spend quality time with one another.

Or… the ability to simply take a breath without thinking twice about it.

What we might’ve planned yesterday might not still be the plan today or tomorrow, and that’s ok. We roll with the punches and find a way forward.

In Other Words

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but that doesn’t mean we stop making plans nor do our best to follow through on them when we can.

I relish the chance to make plans, change plans, even the smallest of plans. It’s a gift and a blessing to wake up each day and have a chance to seize the day.

A year later, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and our neighbors. We’ve learned who are the people kind enough to selflessly wear a mask to protect others around them, and who are the more selfish types that do not. We’ve learned who would go the extra mile for us, who checks in here and there with a thoughtful phone call, and who are the people who enjoy seeing us at parties, swearing that they’ll make plans for coffee soon, but they never do.

Be mindful with your planning, knowing how fragile our initial plans can be. Make it count, and if there’s a change of plans, make those plans count, too.

I’ve always wanted to take a European vacation. It was something I’ve been meaning to get around to someday. For a while there, it seemed like that “someday” was farther and farther away. International travel seemed remote. Today? Well, truthfully, ever since the reality of a vaccination shot in my arm, it’s hard not to daydream and brainstorm about plans old and new again.

Where to next?

It’s something we haven’t had the luxury to think about for a long time.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, though. I still need the second vaccine dose and the subsequent two weeks of rest to become fully inoculated, and even then, it’s not as if the pandemic ends once I have immunity from COVID.

But it’s hard not to think of what’s next. All those Plan A’s, long-delayed.

I never got to take my wonderful partner on a romantic vacation to propose to her in the beautiful, magical way that I had originally planned, but I’m very pleased with the Plan B I came up with to make the proposal special. Every time I glance at those gleaming stones on her finger, I smile, and I feel the butterflies. We’ve made pencil-sketch plans on what the wedding may look like, but we know plans change, and we’ll settle on final plans when it’s time.

When I think about all the plans I’d like to get to in the future, it’s hard not to overload my mind with all the possibilities. That European vacation could be a European honeymoon, perhaps. Maybe we like it so much that we stay. The world is your oyster, so it seems, after spending nearly a year in hibernation.

After all, now that there is official post-vaccination guidance from the CDC, it’s not too early to start thinking about making post-pandemic plans again.

Again, I’m not counting chickens before they hatch. I’ve still got my eyes on the prize: keeping myself, my fiancée, my loved ones, and my community safe. But there’s nothing wrong with sketching some plans out in pencil and hopefully, one day, marking them in ink and getting to experience them.

Parting Thoughts

That basketball player, Rudy Gobert, has had one heck of a year, by the way.

Not only was he a sort of “patient zero” in pro sports, but he had brought a level of shame and irresponsibility upon himself in the wake of 3/11/2020.

Gobert had infamously jokingly touched and coughed on all the microphones and recording equipment in the media room shortly before his positive test, and he had reportedly done the same with his teammates’ belongings as well. When Gobert tested positive and triggered the sport coming to a halt, and then it was revealed that another teammate of his later tested positive, too, it made Gobert (pronounced go-BEAR) a pariah, breaking many people’s trust.

It seemed that the 28-year-old Frenchman learned his lesson the hard way. Gobert apologized profusely for his nonchalant behavior. He donated $500,000 to COVID relief efforts shortly after his diagnosis. He was medically cleared of the virus by the end of March, though it took him several months to repair the frosty relationship with his teammates. Nevertheless, his play and post-virus behavior earned him a new contract, and he appears to have successfully repaired much of the damage he recklessly inflicted.

Plus, who knows how many lives may have been indirectly saved in the wake of 3/11/2020? Shutting down a major sports league was unprecedented, but the NBA’s prompt, decisive actions in response to Gobert’s test result set an important tone that filled a leadership void that this country sorely needed. For better or worse, it took a basketball league’s decision to shut down for millions of Americans to grasp how serious a situation we found ourselves in, and the case of Rudy Gobert could be part of a history curriculum someday.

Suffice to say, Gobert’s 2020 plans did not go as expected, but he found a way forward, and he grew from it. Figuratively, of course. He is already 7'1 tall. It’s about as relatable as a 7'1 person could be to the rest of us. Even highly-paid giants can feel the same emotions we do. Kudos to him for making lemonade.

Thank you for all of the feedback after last week’s issue. It was a tough one to write, but it’s always cathartic to me to get the hard things out onto the page. My fiancée was touched by all of the kind words people passed along, as well.

As I wrote last week, it’s important to carry with us the spirit of those we’ve lost, because we can draw lifelong lessons from the way that they lived. After everything we’ve endured over the past 12 months, we are all forever changed. Hopefully, we can all continue to make as much sweet lemonade as we can from the sour lemons heaped upon us from the novel coronavirus. We can’t physically bring back those we’ve lost, but we can remember them fondly and vividly and live our lives with their wisdom always on our minds.

So stay warm and stay safe out there, make your vaccination plans, and hey, start dreaming up all the fun plans you’ve been meaning to get to again.

Every experience is an opportunity to learn, even the experiences we wish we could undo. Turn those lemons into lemonade, find purpose and meaning from the things that challenge you most, and we can emerge stronger for it.

Till next time,

-Jon

Previously in The Good Press

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