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COLUMN: Reflecting on a most unusual year that included cancer, COVID-19, but also plenty of positives

'There are always potholes on the road of life, some deeper than others, but the road is generally smooth and the key is to not let the potholes consume you,' writes MidlandToday editor in year-end column
2020-12-29 lt
Heading out for a paddle with my daughter Mathilde at Killarney Provincial Park was one of this year's many positives.

My year started lying in a hospital bed for a week at Princess Margaret’s.

At that point, you kind of think that things can’t get much lower.

But somehow, this year has proven me wrong.

And like a lot of things in life, the bad news comes gradually rather than in one fell swoop.

While my convalescence took a full month of taking it easy at home with my parents cancelling their annual winter sojourn to Savannah to stay closer, the first seeds of what would become a global pandemic started to be sown.

When things like this happen, human nature tells us that we will always bring it down to a personal level.

For me, the personal level involved learning that my Mom and daughter Carmelle’s long-planned March trip to Italy and Austria had to be cancelled, Mount St. Louis Moonstone opted to shut down operations early and things got eerily quiet during morning walks with our dog Lucky.

But while driving back from the SPCA where I had the good fortune of meeting some very lovable northern Ontario dogs who had just arrived in Midland, I stopped at a store to buy a few things and saw that panic had picked up a notch..

While it was a Friday the 13th, something seemed even more ominous than usual. People were buying huge quantities of items.

There was no toilet paper on the shelves and shoppers were buying cases of bottled water (which I never understand since it seems like such a waste of resources considering we have great tap water. But I digress.). It felt like people were preparing for the end of days.

So when I returned to the office, I wrote a happy story about meeting Tundra and Timber and an ominous one about shopping gone wild.

And unfortunately, the latter trend of writing continued for several weeks that soon turned into months.

Stories about people dying, people struggling to get by, cancelled events and virtual school for students and teachers across the region soon became the norm.

I have covered a lot of different things over the years, from a devastating ice storm in eastern Ontario in the late 1990s that led to dozens of deaths and knocked power out to some for weeks to American-bound jumbo jets being diverted to the Maritimes during 9/11 to Québec’s last referendum on whether to separate from Canada.

But these stories all had definitive end dates: The power was eventually restored, the planes returned to the skies and Québec opted to stay.

And while this has lasted a lot longer than many originally anticipated and led to much heartbreak for those who have lost loved ones, these ominous times, too, will eventually end.

As clichéd as it might sound, there are always potholes on the road of life, some deeper than others, but the road is generally smooth and the key is to not let the potholes consume you.

The current times might seem like extremely deep crevices, but they are just that, simply potholes that we will survive.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “When it rains, look for rainbows; when it's dark, look for stars.”


Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Community Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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