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2021 Reflections

December 20, 2021Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

I was on a Zoom call last Friday morning and had a participant join a few seconds late. He made the comment about “sliding in.”

It reminded me of something my dad used to say and it was about how we live life.

He’d say that people shouldn’t be so concerned about living life lightly.

He instead suggested that the true purpose of one’s life is not to arrive at its final destination in a perfectly preserved body, free of blemish or scar with clothes perfectly clean and pressed; but rather to cross the finish line of life by coming in sliding sideways, in a cloud of dust, torn and battered while screaming, “damn what a ride!”

It’s as if he was forecasting the last couple of years.

When you think back on it, most of us are hard-pressed to think of a period of time where we experienced so much, well, weirdness.  And I know that also more than once, we found ourselves a little tattered in a cloud of dust.

And when I say “we,” I mean all of us, collectively, as a community.

We learned a thing or two, didn’t we?

We quickly learned to adapt in the early stages of the pandemic. And while we didn’t necessarily all agree with how we handled it or the right way to respond to it, we made it. And we loved each other anyway and some just a little more.

There was, in the last couple of years, what I’d call the perfect storm. Oil was in the toilet. We had a virus thrown at us that no one had ever heard of. The stock market was an ugly roller coaster ride. We had the polarization of a presidential election. We watched our neighbor’s business get kicked in the shins. And that list, unfortunately, goes on.

But we made it. Our community made it. And while there are some of us who suffered loss of a loved one or a painful impact on a business, we’re emerging from that nasty period still loving those we love, friends with our friends, and more resilient and determined than ever before.

For those of us who did suffer loss, I wish nothing but abundant peace to you and your family. I know it was hard.

I could not be more proud of the place where we live. And you hear me speak frequently about how special this place is, how we must never take Abilene and all that it is for granted, and that there’s no better place on God’s green Earth to raise a family or grow a business. That has not changed. If anything, we’ve put our painful lessons to work and found even better ways.

As we look back on the previous year (or two – they seem to have run together), let’s not forget all we’ve been through together. Let’s not forget how we checked in on our neighbors. Let’s not forget how we rallied – more than once – around small businesses and healthcare workers and first responders and each other.

Let’s just not forget.

Instead, let’s harness that same grit and determination that we found in the ugly months and put it to good use.

Let’s continue to check on each other. Let’s make sure we continue to thank those who go the extra mile. Let’s continue to invest time and energy into growing the best business community anywhere. And let’s all thank God that we live our lives in Abilene, Texas.

After all, if we’re lucky enough to live in Abilene, we’re all lucky enough.

It’s time to catch our breath and count our blessings. And to prepare for a year ahead that brings promise and hope and opportunity for all of us.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and here’s to a safe, healthy, prosperous and successful 2022.

Onward!

Doug

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