I’m hoping for a 2020 that’s OK.

That’s all. I’m not looking for an excellent year. Or a super-duper year.  Or the Best. Year. Ever.

Just an OK year.  Which is what I’ll probably get.  And what you’ll probably get, too.


OK is OK

We live in a time of overblown claims and expectations.  Commercials are a prime example of that.  For instance, you’ve probably seen those witty AT&T ads that tell you, “Just OK is not OK.”  The message is that, when it comes to a wireless network, you should choose one that’s excellent and the best.  Which, according to AT&T, is AT&T.

Have you ever been in one of those end-of-the-year all-employee corporate meetings in which the bosses tell the gathered workers how excellent their corporation is and how excellent the work they’ve done throughout the year has been?  Sometimes, that’s true.  Most times, though — simply on the basis of averages — the corporation isn’t excellent but, well, average.

That’s the thing.  In order for one corporation to be excellent, a lot of other corporations have to be just middling.  And some have to be pretty bad.  It’s the same with restaurants, movies, clothing and everything, even humans.


An OK LeBron James

Remember the Lake Woebegone joke that, among its residents, “the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average”?

The thing about people — women, men and children — is that we’re all pretty much sort of average.  I may be taller than you, but you may have a better fashion sense.  My neighbor may be a mechanical whiz, but the kid across the street may be adept at languages.  This stuff tends to even out.  The rich woman who can buy a lot of stuff without a blink of the eye may sing like a frog, while the poor guy who doesn’t have two dimes to scrape together sounds like an angel.

LeBron James is great at basketball.  Is he likely to be great at the other parts of his life?  Probably not.  He’s likely to be just OK.


Good stuff…and bad stuff

Which brings me back to 2020.

When you think back on your personal life, how many years do you remember that were really extraordinary?  I can go back to 1981 when I met the woman who became my wife.  That was pretty super-duper — although, truth be told, it was also pretty depressing earlier in the year when I was sick.

When I think back on the years that have been special for me — such as 1985 and 1988 when our children David and Sarah were born, or 2019 when our granddaughter Emma was born — there are also aspects of those years that were difficult and even dark.  For instance, just three months after Emma arrived, one of our nephews in his late 30s died of cancer.

That’s the sobering reality that I find myself coming back to.  A year may have a lot of good stuff that happens, but it’ll have bad stuff too.

So, I’m not expecting 2020 to be the Best. Year. Ever.


Not Best Ever — nor Worst

Or, for that matter, the Worst.

I’m not falling into the temptation of fretting that, because of this or that twitch in the economy or this or that quirk in the electorate or this or that twist in my health, it will be the Worst. Year. Ever.

Bad stuff is certain to happen in 2020.  And some will happen to me.  It’s just the way things go.  But, in those same 12 months, other good stuff will happen.  I don’t expect that 365 days from today I’ll be looking back on 2020 as an excellent or fabulous or super-duper year. Or horrendous.

I expect that, 52 weeks from now, I’ll look back on 2020 as an OK year in a life of a lot of OK years.

And that’ll be just fine for me.


Patrick T. Reardon


Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is https://patricktreardon.com/.


  1. Kathleen Drennan January 1, 2020 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Wonderfully insightful, as always.

    • Patrick T Reardon January 2, 2020 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks much. Pat

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