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My old year, new job and hopes for 2020
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

When I look back on 2019, there are a lot of things I’d like to forget. I’ve spent a lot of time on this planet and I can’t remember a year that I am happier that it is ending.

I could make a bunch of resolutions for 2020, but they would be the same ones that I have made for several years: feed my body less and feed my soul more. Do the things that have enduring value and not the ones that have momentary satisfaction.

There are a few things that I would like to resolve for all of us.

I think we should care more for our friends and work to understand our enemies.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I have a lot of friends, but I often lament that I don’t spend enough time with them. A conversation is not made in an exchange of electronic messages or phone calls. You need to sit down and look at one another as you speak. It’s OK to reach over and touch someone on the hand or arm to make a little emphasis.

We should not forget our elders. There are a lot of people who have much wisdom from which we can learn. It may be a parent, a relative or a person who has been around a little longer than you and can offer a little nugget of information that might meet a need in your life.

We should do something nice for no reason. Many years ago, I was madly in love with a girl and had gone to a store to buy a bouquet of flowers. While I was in the parking lot, I saw a young woman with a baby, a toddler and the oldest that was probably a kindergartener. She was juggling a stroller, a baby bag and a purse while trying to herd the two older kids through a parking lot.

For some reason, I decided to put the bouquet in the door handle of her car. I thought that the woman needed something to brighten her day. I hope it did.

In a new twist of careers, I have become a school bus driver. I have quickly learned that there are kids who need a little nudge of affirmation. Right before Christmas, I bought a bag of candy bars and gave them to the kids that had been good helpers. 

Most bus drivers have designated a child or two as helpers. There are a lot of streets in our county where folks have no address numbers on the mailbox or the house. The helper is a kid who knows the route and can help you find your next stop. That’s important when you’ve got 75 kids on a bus.

When I gave them a candy bar, you would have thought I had given them an amazing present. The smile was worth every penny.

We need to get to know our collective neighbors better. The other night, a group of carolers came by from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. These young people are here on mission and will be here for a while. A young man was from Missouri, a young woman was from Utah and another young woman was from Ghana, on the western coast of Africa. I told them that I was strong in my beliefs, which differ in some ways from them. But I told them that I admired their dedication and wished only the best for them.

We parted with smiles and handshakes and I hope to see them again. I hope to do more of that in 2020.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on