Hindsight is 2020

Imagine if one of your greatest sources of entertainment was simply watching a man sit atop a flagpole for days on end. You might scoff, but this was a source of fun for thousands of people in the 1920s who were fascinated by Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly. Kelly, who purportedly began his pole-sitting career on a dare from a friend, attracted audiences of up to 20,000 spectators. People flocked to watch him sit on high perches, once for a record-breaking 49 days! Today, with so many sources of engaging entertainment accessible from the comfort of our own homes, it’s hard to imagine the appeal.

On a typical Friday night, you might enjoy takeout and a cold beer or a glass of wine while streaming a movie with the family. We take such a simple activity for granted, but it would’ve been impossible 100 years ago. Prohibition would have made it illegal to unwind with an alcoholic beverage. Silent movies were becoming popular in theaters in the 1920s, but in-house entertainment was limited to radios for those lucky enough to own one. Hard-working families might not have had any time at all to simply enjoy a relaxing Friday night, because minimum wage did not yet exist, child labor laws were over a decade away, and working conditions were tough.

perspectiveI am blown away when I think about the ways that technological advancements, medical breakthroughs, and global connections have contributed to the quality of life on our planet over the last 100 years. Average life expectancy has gone up, education has never been more accessible, and there are incredible inventions that have provided everything from hygienic convenience (thank you, indoor plumbing!) to life-saving solutions. And, today, there are more democracies and fewer large-scale conflicts than ever before in recorded history. All of this leads me to believe that even with all of the horrors we’ve witnessed this year, the world has changed for the better and will continue to do so.

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been fraught with challenges but learning about the many ways that we’ve grown and improved over the last 100 years has given me a healthy dose of perspective. This year, I am grateful for the medical advancements that will continue to save lives, for the technology that makes it possible to stay connected, and for so much more. Even if you’re a loyal fan of the lost art of pole-sitting, don’t you agree that the world we live in today is pretty amazing?

Fuel for thought,