Eric Douglas: Changing how we react in the new year

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Because of a quirk in the English language, there is no good way to refer to the years 00 through 19. Obviously, when talking about people, 13-19 is referred to as the “teens,” but that sounds awkward when referring to decade. And it leaves out 10, 11 and 12.

My favorite way of referring to the the 00-09 is the “naughts” or still better the “aughts,” but that goes back a long way. About the only place you hear aught used to represent 0 is in the rifle cartridge 30 Aught Six (.30-06).

Fortunately, none of that matters any more. We have now officially entered the 2020s.

The 1920s were a time of great personal change. Prohibition began in January 1920 and didn’t end until Dec. 5, 1933, but still people were out dancing, drinking and changing the culture.

Of course, the end of the 1920s was marked by the stock market crash of August 1929 and the beginning of The Great Depression. People lost millions of dollars, millions of people lost jobs and the country reeled.

Even after it ended, the recovery took years, and the United States wasn’t entirely back on its feet until the build-up to World War II.

For the next year, we will hear jokes about 2020 being the year of perfect vision or politicians have a 2020 vision for the future. Obviously, there is no way to tell what this year will bring, or the decade of the 2020s, for that matter.

The greek stoic philosopher Epicetus was born a slave in 50 A.D. and lived in Rome until he was banished. He moved to northern Greece, where he lived the rest of his life.

Epicetus is famous for many of his teachings, but one that has always stuck with me is “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

I am sure there will be things in the coming year, and the following decade, that will happen to me that I don’t like. That’s just life. My resolution for this year isn’t to worry about the things that happen but to focus on my reactions to those things. That works both for good and bad events.

It’s easy to experience something good and think “Everything is going to change now!”, when, in reality, it’s just a positive blip. Nice, but not life-changing.

Alternatively, a really bad day could cause me to think everything is a disaster and I should just hang it up, stop “pretending” to be a writer and just quit. That doesn’t help anything, either.

So, that’s my resolution for the year — or perfect vision.

And maybe lose some weight, too.

Happy New Year!

Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit or contact him at

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