Yes, it’s a new year with renewed hopes and goals but, really, how should we plan for tomorrow when we can’t see more than a car length ahead through the thick pandemic fog? Browsing through pre-COVID forecasts for 2020 shows how difficult predictions are – they usually don’t come true or they fall way short; because of unforeseen events that occur and the intervention of the unexpected, predictions tend to vastly understate their impacts on society, culture, politics and the rest of life. If it’s one thing we’ve learned about the lost years 2020 and 2021 it’s that we don’t know what’s lurking around the corner, and now we’re left to wonder about 2022.

About 450 years ago, Nostradamus, the great seer, prophesied that in 2022 “a great fire will fall from the sky,” which some say meant an asteroid shower will destroy Earth. Maybe he was off by a few decades or a millennium or two. Or maybe he was just plain guessing. Not to judge Nostradamus, because his foresight was amazing, but making predictions isn’t an exact science and can make those that make them with absolute certainty – even the most brilliant of minds – look pretty foolish.

Wishful thinking may be natural. Is it possible that the pandemic will wind down this year and no new variants will pop up to spoil a renaissance? Is is possible that schools, restaurants, gyms, churches and workplaces will fully reopen this year? In some way we’re more optimistic than ever because we’ve been waiting, wishing and hoping so long that we’ve stored two plus years of pent-up hope. But we may not be able to turn the page so quickly or cleanly. Reality may not meet our lofty hopes and expectations for the immediate future, but we can hope, can’t we?

Hope is something of a balancing act. Optimism and pessimism are tricky elements. Timing is everything. We found out that unknowns like the 100-year pandemic do occur, and how they interplay with events, economics, politics, culture, technology and other facets of life stimulate new scenarios to eventually deal with the unknowns – unknowns that change our lives, potentially for the better. The goal is to reduce anxiety and increase the odds of good outcomes, and a bright outlook reduces stress and motivates individuals to bounce back. Clearly, the message is: plan for success. It’s been proven that those who prepare for success are more likely to succeed and experience the rewards.

Which brings us back to the dilemma: How do we plan for tomorrow when the battle for tomorrow is still being fought in the streets and house to house? Perhaps the pandemic will vanish. Or not. Perhaps new variants will disappear. Or not. One minute the glass seems half full and the next it seems half empty. We’ve all been pulled and tugged. We’re not sure what the new normal is, or what the future will be, but we believe our tomorrows will be shaped by the stories we tell today about a better future to come, stories you will continue to find in each and every issue of TOAST.

Publishers Note - Winter 2022
Driving through the eucalyptus forest on Los Osos Valley Rd. on the way to Montaña de Oro State Park.