Predicting the unpredictable getting much more confusing

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 12/30/20

Beauty, the poet says, “is in the eye of the beholder.”

I think that saying probably got started by a guy whose buddy was ragging him about his girlfriend’s looks. Real beauty, we all know, …

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Predicting the unpredictable getting much more confusing

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Beauty, the poet says, “is in the eye of the beholder.”

I think that saying probably got started by a guy whose buddy was ragging him about his girlfriend’s looks. Real beauty, we all know, is a deep, maybe even spiritual thing.

Of course, beauty isn’t the only thing that can lie beneath the surface. The late comedian Nipsey Russell said beauty “may be skin deep but ugly is clear to the bone.”

I say all that to note that so many things, including beauty or the lack thereof, are often just points of view. That’s especially true this time of year — nearing the new year — when folks are considering resolutions and making predictions.

Stories, books even, are written about resolutions. The experts tell us the reason we make resolutions is regret over not doing better up until now in whatever we’re talking about, and wanting to improve. Starting over is a basic human component; we all want to do better today than yesterday, I think, so what better place to start than our behavior.

Those same experts, however, tell us we must be specific. So, it’s not enough to say “I want to lose weight.” We’ve got to be specific ... and we’ve got to make our goals realistic or else the futility will drive us to drink shoe polish and we’ll just get all upset ... and instead of losing weight we’ll eat more and turn into someone the size of three elephants.

That means instead of saying “I resolve to lose weight in 2021,” we need to say “I resolve to lose 62 pounds by August 18.” That’s something specific and it’s also more realistic than saying, “I resolve to lose 62 pounds by the end of next week.”

Predictions are like resolutions in that they’re another thing that’s hard to put much faith into. (Especially in these trying times of what I call the “three P’s” — pandemic, politics and people, as in staying away from.) But that doesn’t keep them from being made, especially around the first of each new year. And the predictions most of the time are about as solid as a bowl of Jell-O and sometimes trying to figure out what the predictors mean is like trying to nail that Jell-O to a tree. That’s one reason why astrologers are as popular as they are with their predictions; who could argue with being told “Not playing in the street will go a long way toward keeping you healthy today” or some other bit of similar wisdom?

Some predictions are easy to understand ... not so easy to believe, but easy to understand what the folks making them mean. For instance, every new year someone comes along and says the world as we know it will end sometime within the next 365 days.

Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know and don’t claim to know. But I do have a firm opinion on a prediction I saw some days ago when a renowned state economist made the prediction that by this summer, we’d be paying somewhere around $3 to $4 for a gallon of gas ... and that such a scenario would be a good thing because it would mean our U.S. economy is once again strong. I guess by this stage of life, I really am a dinosaur on the way to extinction because I actually thought the nation’s economy wasn’t all that bad and I don’t quite get how higher prices are good things. These days, I’m of the opinion — belief, even — that greed has overtaken the law of supply and demand I learned from Gene Brooks in his Pittsboro High School economics class in the Dark Ages.

So, I’ve already pretty much quit as much useless driving as I can, started combining as many errand trips as practical and generally staying put as much as possible, partly over the gas and partly over laying low right now. But not everyone can do that and somehow the logic of a notion that spending additional weaker dollars on a necessity that winds up putting more folks farther and farther in the hole is a good thing escapes me.

Perhaps I should make a resolution to study at the feet of folks who keep telling us they know what’s what. But then I remember one of the three biggest lies in the world — “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you” — and, well, my resolve starts going out the window.

Here’s to a better 2021.


Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.


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