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So long, 2020: Don't let the door hit you on the way out

When Rogue Valley residents were asked for their take on 2020, their response was not so much a fond farewell but more of a “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

On the other hand, their New Year’s resolutions are reflective, forward looking, even optimistic — giving notice that it takes more than a killer pandemic to crush the indomitable American spirit.

For sure, it’s been a chaotic year. But it was not all about zoonotic disease and the efficacy of face masks. Or long lines at polls and food banks. Or isolation, divisiveness and devastating fires.

It was also about neighbors helping neighbors. About the dedication of selfless essential workers — doctors and nurses who risked their lives to administer aid to the ill, and so many others who helped keep the economy from collapsing. And about how scientists responded with unprecedented speed to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

We polled a sampling of Rogue Valley residents to see what’s top of mind for them as 2020 grinds to a close. Below, they offer their thoughts on the past year and share their New Year’s resolutions.

Bob Fox of Evans Valley put on his sardonic hat for his response.

“Contrary to those who believe in religious doctrine, I’ve never believed in the concept of a ‘hell,’ although 2020 has been a compelling argument in its favor.”

Fox says he believes few would disagree that the country is deeply divided and in crisis, and worries that if it’s left to politicians and government to repair the damage, it may be a long wait.

“My resolution is to have had, by the end of 2021, meaningful discussions with 10 individuals with completely opposite political and social views from myself. Discussions must be respectful, sympathetic and promote an understanding of each other’s point of view and willingness to compromise in order for all of us to heal and move forward. This may be the toughest resolution I’ve ever made, but failure is not an option.”

Ryan Walker, an Ashland High School senior, says 2020 has required a great deal of adaptability from everyone.

“While none of it was easy, I have come to use it as a teaching opportunity for myself.” She’s excited to discover in what other ways she can grow from the experience and help others through that process as well.

“My New Year’s resolution is to learn a third language,” she said. Walker is fluent in English and French and expects to learn German next. “Eventually, I hope to learn Mandarin, Spanish and Korean.” She plans to pursue a linguistics major in college.

Alan DeBoer of Ashland says 2020 offered many lessons, perhaps especially in the realm of politics.

“We need to bring everyone together. It’s over. Let’s move on.”

He invites others to join him in his New Year’s resolution: “We need to work on our many problems and find simple, easy solutions.”

Rick Lindemann, a designer in Ashland, says 2020 fueled his introverted tendency to hide away and do his craft.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, but I hope to emerge from that cocoon in the new year and allow a fresh wind to carry me to new experiences.”

He sums up his New Year’s resolution in two words: digital detox.

“My 12-step program will include less YouTube and more ‘we two,’ less streaming and more walking along streams, less Zooming and better grooming, fewer news feeds but more sharing good news.”

Graham Lewis of Phoenix believes 2020 demonstrated that humans tend to bring on their own troubles, be they racism, health problems, political divides or how they deal with crises.

“As the world suffers from the virus without borders, my hope is that we learn from that bug to work together without boundaries. What is good for you is good for me.”

His New Year’s resolution is to improve his photography skills, stretch his limits beyond the usual, and enjoy online classes. “Love life and remember there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Joel Weyhe of Medford offered a New Year’s resolution that provides a hint of how he views the past year.

“I rarely make resolutions, and all I can think of at this point is not to bad-mouth anyone’s politics and make myself sell my Bitcoin, both noble goals.”

Dennis Powers summarized 2020 as a year of many negatives — shutdowns from the pandemic, loss of careers and income, social isolation, vitriolic and conflict-ridden elections, and the devastating fires that destroyed so many homes and businesses.

“For me, resolutions are now about hopefulness,” the Ashland resident said.

“I resolve to separate what I can from what I cannot control and find the inner tranquility from what’s left over. If I can find the positive, I know I’ve found the key to 2021.”

Tiffany Maude says she would be glad to sum up the year 2020, except that she believes “we aren’t allowed to swear in the paper.”

The Ashland resident has a simple resolution for the new year: “Ask more questions.”

Mason Decker, an Ashland High School senior, says 2020 has mixed messages for him.

“It has shown Southern Oregon’s willingness to protect our communities from a global crisis and exposed the weaknesses in our disaster preparedness preparations.”

He believes there will be more years like 2020 in the future. But this year, he says, “will incentivize us to be better prepared.”

His New Year’s resolution is inspired by a friend.

“I plan to read more books on history. I have a friend who always talks about interesting historical facts, and I’d like to read more about them.”

Clive Rosengren of Medford says 2020 has been the worst year in his memory since 1968.

“The pandemic, racial unrest and police force overreach all contributed to chaos, which was nourished by the Trump administration. History will not be kind to them.”

The former Hollywood actor and now published author is focused on his writing when it comes to making a New Year’s resolution.

“My serious resolution is to write my sixth private eye novel featuring actor/private investigator Eddie Collins.”

Max McKee of Ashland has tried not to let 2020 get him down.

“Nell (his wife) and I have traveled somewhere every month for a week at a time,” he said. “Yellowstone in September, Astoria to Mt. Adams in October, Yachats in November, and Las Vegas most recently, where we visited Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam and the great Christmas display at the Bellagio.”

His New Year’s resolution: “Live our lives in freedom, and do everything possible to help others get back to real life right away.”

Priscilla Arnold of Ashland says despite 2020 being such a difficult year, she still finds things for which to be thankful.

“My top choice for a resolution would be to continue to be thankful for every blessing each day can bring. If this year has taught me anything, it is to be more diligent about intentionally being grateful.”

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One last thing. If you’re tired of all the bad luck that’s piled up this year, here’s an idea: people in Italy believe that wearing red underwear on New Year’s Day will bring them good luck.

It couldn’t hurt.

You can reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

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