There are so many ways to measure the year that is about to be put in the books. You can measure it by the success you had in your job. You can measure it by the amount of money you made or lost. You could measure it by the teams you support in sports. Of course, you could measure it in terms of politics and whether the ideas and people you support made headway or lost ground.
I think one of the best ways to measure time is in the relationships we make along the way. Maybe it is the only way to truly measure our time in this life. Who do we love and who loves us?
I am a better father and husband today than I have ever been. I still have plenty of room for improvement but I am moving the needle I think. At least I believe I am getting better. You could of course ask my kids or Ivey if they agree with my perspective but I think they would say the same.
The people we meet along the way each year are the signposts of our lives. The stranger we stopped to help or the old acquaintance we meet again after so many years.
We also take time to mark the passing of those no longer with us. My father died on December 23rd. I find it hard to believe but this year marks 14 years since he died. I often wonder what he would think of all the chaos in the world today.
I also reflect on the year passed by considering who is the most interesting person I have met all year. Take a moment and consider that. Of all the people you met this year- who was the singularly most interesting of them all?
In my line of work, I have the unique opportunity to speak with a diverse cross section of people almost every day. They come from so many backgrounds and so varied in their experiences that it made me stop and think about who would top my list this year.
Donald Trump is on my list this year. I am not sure it’s fair to put him on here. I have talked to him before and we are all inundated with coverage of everything Trump around the clock. The coverage is pretty much constant. I don’t think you can go 5 minutes on any cable news network (commercials not withstanding) without the discussion turning to something involving our President. However, meeting him in person in The Oval Office gives me a very different angle and a new level of understanding. He is not the cartoon character portrayed on so many cable networks. He is genuine and truly interested in what other people have to say, me and Ivey included. He talked to us and asked what we thought about different things and then listened to our answers. He shared humor and honest comments with us. He is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but I liked him in person and look forward to seeing him again. To each his own I say.
Which brings me to a different side of the equation and that is those who just can’t handle it.
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Annie Smith, is not really her name but she works in mental health with patients that expect privacy and though she never discussed anyone directly I still find it best to keep her real name out of this.
Annie treats people with all sorts of disorders. I am a simple case. I have ADD. I don’t mind telling you that because it has made me who I am. It is just a matter of understanding how to run the equipment. In this case the equipment is my brain. It took me many years to learn how to run it effectively and efficiently. I was happy to discover over time as one book proclaimed, I am not lazy, crazy or stupid.
Annie however is dealing with a whole bunch of folks that are afflicted with an inability to run their equipment but it’s a new phenomenon. Or at least a just revealed problem. I think these are deep seated issues that are just coming to the surface. Weak character always reveals itself over time.
You see, Annie explained to me that ever since President Trump was elected the number of people who tell her they are liberals and are falling apart has gone through the roof. Annie spends her days treating people who have fallen into depression or fallen to the bottom of a bottle of booze trying to cope with Trump in The White House. This has been going on for three years now.
I find this unsettling for so many reasons. I also find myself deeply disappointed in these people. I mean come on man, pull yourself together!
How can adults be reduced to blabbering incoherent children just because their candidate lost an election? I asked her the same. She is also disgusted by it all. She says these patients are listless, depressed and medicating themselves. Heavily medicating themselves. I don’t find them very interesting but Annie earned her spot for this year for putting up with all that noise and delusion day after day.
Which brings me to Phil.
I met Phil just recently and he is the most interesting person I met all year. He is a man of great wit and at the moment I first heard him he was having an in depth discussion of the viscosity of semen. Unusual to say the least but he wasn’t discussing it in some sophomoric way, he needed me to join in for that part of the conversation. He was explaining how in his studies he had discovered a variety of problems with sperm in men. Apparently over time sperm count has been plummeting around the world. Phil explained that compounds in our environment are having an impact on our ability to reproduce.
I said with 8 billion people on the planet maybe that isn’t a bad thing. I mean at some point aren’t there just too many of us? Phil thought I might be right about that but wasn’t ready to endorse a new pandemic for the new year. I’m not either.
Phil’s fascination with sperm count and viscosity however was just a starting point. I asked him if he was a doctor. He told me no. Instead he said he was on a team that is about to release a vaccination to the world for Alzheimer’s disease. He explained how they had arrived at this point in the journey in the search for a cure.
The number of people who die from Alzheimer’s varies greatly depending on who you ask. Five years ago, Neurology reported online that it estimated more than 500,000 people a year died from the disease.
That is several times higher than just over 80,000 estimated by The Centers for Disease Control. Either way, it’s a lot of people and Phil’s work could save a lot of lives. The amount of suffering he could help to end is simply amazing.
Phil tops my list of the most interesting people I met this year and I am hopeful that he succeeds in curing the world of the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease.
I hope in the years to come some of the most interesting people will be those that survived the deadly illness because of Phil and his team.