The bright side

We reached a year. What will we remember fondly? Also, 7 other things worth your time.

So, this is what a pandemic year looks like, huh? According to the parade of content in my newsfeeds and inbox, we’ve reached the one year anniversary.

For obvious reasons, like 500,000+ deaths in the U.S. alone and 2.68 million worldwide, they’re mostly pretty somber:

  • Why you might be experiencing what psychologists call 'the anniversary effect' -- and what to do about it (CNN)

  • Coronavirus declared global pandemic one year ago: 'Together, we will endure' (Fox News)

  • We can finally see the end of the pandemic. We just need to not implode before we get there (LA Times)

But, I have an idea. After writing Understandably for going on 15 months, some of the best days have been when we’ve talked about gratitude. I have my New Jersey neighbor, Stephen Colbert, to thank for prompting me to try to think about things this way.

Colbert is the host of The Late Show on CBS here in the U.S., and he’s talked frankly about a tragic experience in his childhood. When he was 10 years old, his father and two of his brothers were killed in a plane crash.

But as he explained in an interview a while back, as an adult, he tries to be grateful for the experience of having gone through that tragedy:

I don't want it to have happened. I want it to not have happened, but if you are grateful for your life … then you have to be grateful for all of it.

You can't pick and choose what you're grateful for.

So, what do you get from loss? You get awareness of other people's loss, which allows you to connect with that other person, which allows you to love more deeply and to understand what it's like to be a human being, if it's true that all humans suffer.

To be sure, I think we’re too close to the pandemic experience to suggest most of us would be grateful that it happened. But, I think it would be a good exercise to share some of the positive things that came out of it—the bright side of a global tragedy, in other words.

For example, in my case it’s easy to identify. Yes, it’s been hard to limit travel and stay home for such a long time. But, the bright side is pretty obvious: the extra time I got to spend with my wife and daughter. I have a feeling that when I look back five years from now, that’s a big part of what I’ll be remembering. They’ll be good memories.

So, with that, I invite you to share your bright sides in the comments. What good things came out of the challenging and tragic circumstances of the last year?

By the way, I mentioned this idea to a friend who suggested she’d rather share without attaching her name to her comment. So if you’re of the same mind as her, just reply to this email, and I’ll post on your behalf as “a reader.”


7 other things worth your time

  • Tax accountants collectively mourned yesterday, as the IRS announced that the deadline to file U.S. tax returns will be extended from April 15 to May 17. (CNBC)

  • A 21-year-old alleged killer — I’m not even going to give him the respect of writing his name — is being held on eight charges of murder after allegedly opening fire at three Atlanta massage parlors Tuesday. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent. “We believe he frequented these places in the past and may have been lashing out,” a law enforcement officer said. (WSJ)

  • Google will lower its Play commissions globally from 30% to 15% for the first $1 million, following a similar move by rival Apple late last year. The change starts July 1; after $1 million, it stays at 30%. So, this helps small developers but wouldn’t do a lot for say, Netflix. (Techcrunch)

  • The judge overseeing the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd opened court Wednesday by threatening to remove a media pool and shut down a media center over some reporting on the case. (AP)

  • Russia's foreign ministry withdrew its ambassador to the U.S. on Wednesday after President Biden vowed that Russian leader Vladimir Putin would "pay a price" for his country's efforts to interfere in the 2020 election. (The Hill)

  • Four years after Amazon bought Whole Foods, it’s making another major push to sell groceries. This time, it’s ramping up openings of Amazon Fresh grocery stores: 11 in the U.S. during the past year so far, with a 12th opening Thursday in Long Beach, California. (CNN)

  • Kind of cool, even if you’re not into baseball—but I’m grateful for the reminder of spring: The record for most pitches in a single at-bat is 21 in MLB. In a spring training game, pitcher Luis Guillorme threw 22 pitches against Jordan Hicks. The record doesn’t count since it wasn’t an official game; the at-bat ended in a walk anyway.

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