A time for looking back — and forward
by David Lazenby
Dec 30, 2011 | 637 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
David Lazenby
David Lazenby
Mark Twain once said, “Don’t live in the past, don’t ponder about the future, stay at the present moment now ... always.” Generally, I believe these are good words to live by.

However, in the newspaper business, practitioners — to a degree — are required to live in the past during the last week of the year.

With my focus this week on the newspaper’s annual look back at the year that was, which is typically published on New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve, I have spent a lot of time reviving memories of all that has happened in 2011.

As I have looked through the issues of the Daily Mountain Eagle published during the past 12 months, I have been surprised to discover some things that happened at the beginning of the year weren’t actually memories I had from several years ago.

For example, it seemed to me that at least a few years had past since a rash of armed robberies at local convenience stores disturbed Walker County residents who regularly visit these outlets. However, those crimes were committed less than 12 months ago.

I enjoy taking these short trips back in time each year. They show us not only how much things have changed, but also how much we have changed.

About a week before April 27 (no reminder is needed about what happened on that historic day) the newspaper ran a story about a round of wicked weather that knocked down a tree or two and even caused a few thousand dollars in property damage.

If that same storm had occurred in May, I’m not sure it would have been deemed worthy of any newspaper coverage.

It’s also interesting to note our personal changes while measuring a year. A year ago, I thought the incessant pain in my lower back was merely a result of my age — an issue I’d have to learn to live with. Now, I know it was a condition that could be mended with a simple surgery.

Sometimes, moments in our lives are forever tied in our memories to significant moments we are made aware of by the media. For example, I’ll always remember that I was recovering from back surgery this summer when I was startled by the live reading of the Casey Anthony verdict. I bet you too can recall where you were when you became aware of the end result of that trial that seemed to last forever.

I’ll always remember that I was driving home from the office one Sunday night when my boss called to tell me to turn around so I could get news about the death of Osama bin Laden in the Monday edition of the newspaper. How my pendulum of emotions swung from the moment I thought I heard James Phillips say “Obama is dead” to my realization that Public Enemy No. 1 had finally been brought to justice.

Along with being a time to look back on the last 51 weeks, the last week of the year is also a time to look forward. With the resolutions we make, we look forward to being better than we were the year before — leaner, cleaner, more organized and absent of one unhealthy habit or another.

Perhaps part of the reason the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day are not about the present is there usually isn’t a lot going on during this week. In fact, all the looking back stories at the end of the year are a lifesaver for journalists since there often isn’t much actual news to put in the newspaper.

I’m excited about 2012. Despite our current problems, I believe it’s a great time to be alive. And if we can get through the upcoming year without ending the world, I’ll be happy.

In fact, if I’m blessed to still be here for the New Year’s Eve countdown to the start of 2013, after I yell “Happy New Year!” I may add, “Take that Mayans!”

David Lazenby is news editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 221-2840 or via email at david.lazenby@mountaineagle.com.