Flashback to March 2020
My dad and I were working poolside in Florida as we tracked two major developing stories on our laptops: a new coronavirus was prompting shutdowns in major cities like New York and Seattle; and Joe Biden suddenly emerged as a contender (again) to win the Democratic nomination for president after notching some huge primary wins leading up to Super Tuesday.
Regarding the coronavirus, I had a trip planned to California a month later (April 2020) for a wedding. My dad convinced me to play it safe and cancel it. “Okay,” I said, “This will probably blow over in a matter of weeks, but I suppose I don’t want to set a bad example for my team.”
Regarding the democratic primary, I said, “There’s no way tired old Uncle Joe is going to beat Trump.”
18 months later, The Universe has proven me very, very wrong on both counts.
Shame on me because I was fooled again recently…
Two months ago, I was certain we’d be throwing a monstrous “Welcome Back Let’s Party Twice as Hard” celebration for SRH’s seventh anniversary on September 18th. We’d marked the party date on our calendar six months ago when the vaccine rollout was cooking. We’d resumed our long search for a carnival duo who could shoot somebody out of a cannon (preferably my little brother Mikey). We tossed around themes like “Back in Black” and “Masks Off.”
I was certain I’d be celebrating with all of you… just like we did in 2019!
I didn’t fathom a universe in which we’d be (once again) surveying our team to see if everyone felt safe enough to gather in a small group on our balcony.
Shame on me.
Man, I hate this sh*t… and I’m one of the luckiest ones.
I saw a Facebook post going around yesterday: “Three words you’d say to your 18-year-old self.” I know mine…
“You never know…”
“Young Matt, take nothing for granted. You never know if it’s the last time you’ll ever get the opportunity to…
- See the band… before they break up and their lead singer tragically dies. (Audioslave/Chris Cornell)
- Gallivant around Croatia with your dad and aunt… before she gets cancer and dies.
- Catch frogs with your niece… before she turns into a teenager and only cares about frogs if they’re on TikTok.
- Feel the energy of a bustling office with the full team present… before how and where we work changes forever.
- Roll a Saturday night party into a Sunday Funday with friends… before they all have kids who hijack their souls.
And, of course…
You never know if it’s the last time you’ll ever celebrate a company milestone with all of your favorite people—“the more, the merrier” kind of rooftop party… before a pandemic cancels carefree celebrations for the foreseeable future.
Our beloved art director Angela said to me yesterday, “This pandemic hit me in ways that I never expected.” I agree. I never expected to face how fragile and precious every opportunity is… every day.
I’m sick of tests and masks and protocols. I dearly miss carefree gatherings of all kinds. I loathe the political battlelines that have been galvanized.
But mostly I’m thankful for this wakeup call.
I don’t dare challenge the gods again, but if 2022 returns us to some semblance of pre-COVID normalcy, we are gonna rage on our rooftop… and shoot somebody out of a cannon for god’s sake!