Good things amid bad news

Posted 4/22/09

Sometimes, we forget that there is more to life than the news of the day. For most of the afternoon leading up to my writing of this column, I’ve …

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Good things amid bad news


Sometimes, we forget that there is more to life than the news of the day.

For most of the afternoon leading up to my writing of this column, I’ve been pouring over the headlines of the day. I write on Monday, so much of the news is concerning this anniversary of Columbine with images of memorials and discussions about concealed weapons on the airwaves.

Beyond that, stocks fell almost 300 points. There seems to be something about the number 8,000 that makes the market a bit nervous.

A bill is moving through the state Legislature that makes it easier for municipalities and school districts to issue low-interest bonds to build schools and other infrastructure projects that will get the economy moving again. It’s a nice thought, but with statewide unemployment at 7.5 percent and a little higher than that in the metro area, the same lack of consumer confidence that killed bond initiatives in our area last November is nowhere near subsiding, which makes any thought of borrowing for new buildings basically a moot point right now.

The Denver Business Journal is reporting that venture capital funds flowing into Colorado companies is down the first quarter of the year. We are, “they” say, better off than the rest of the country, but still…

Add that to the fact that my back still hurts after heaving one shovel load of soggy snow after another off my driveway two days ago and I’m left with a bit of a melancholy day on my hands.

I guess it’s all in the way you look at things.

As I was digging through our server looking at the copy for this week’s papers, I came across a story that’s one of my favorites. Some of you read it in our papers last week and the rest of you will get it this week, but it’s about 11-year-old Amy Zhou meeting 91-year-old Joe Svozil Jr. They’re not related, so what in the world could close the 80-year gap between these two?


Amy is a bit of a prodigy on the piano. Joe is a piano player from way back who once played with Benny Goodman’s band. I doubt Amy really appreciates that kind of history (even I only know enough about it to show an appropriate measure of reverence for a story like this until I can get to Google to figure it all out), but that’s not really the point.

The point is, they found each other through a program meant to span generations. The point is, Joe and Amy had a blast playing on the same piano keyboard, even if Amy’s fingers were too small for Joe to always see where they were going next.

The point is, life goes on and special things still happen and there is nothing the economy, elections, unemployment, investment capital or a stiff lower back can do about any of it. If we just take the time to see these kinds of things, we’d have a much better perspective.

One of my favorite quotes from a Mark Twain scholar about the writer’s great knack for humor in everyday life was that Twain was a “prodigious noticer of things.” In other words, he saw great things in scenes in which the rest of the world saw nothing. Who's life was richer for it?

Take time to notice the good things, and the rest of it will seem … manageable.


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