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Tom Blake

By Tom Blake

Millions of people worldwide have experienced unthinkable and unavoidable adversity in the year 2020. Of course, COVID-19 is the biggest factor, but natural disasters such as wildfires, smoke, hurricanes and flooding have added to the adversity.

People have lost their loved ones, jobs, homes and social interaction with friends—the list goes on and on. For the most part, adversity has hit seniors the hardest. The death toll from COVID-19 is highest among the senior population.

There is a flicker of hope on the horizon. The vaccines developed so far have been touted to be at least 90% effective.

Once this adversity is behind us, opportunities will start to arise for individuals. Jobs will become available. Believe me, I’m not trying to paint a rosy or idealistic picture about what has happened to us all in 2020—it’s been a terrible year.

In 1994, I learned a valuable lesson about adversity and how opportunity can arise from it. On Christmas Eve in 1993, my life changed dramatically when my wife of six years—without informing me of her intentions—cleaned out the house and moved out of my life. She filed for divorce four months later.

I was so surprised and shocked that I started keeping a journal to try to gather my thoughts and figure out what had happened. I started to date, thinking mid-life dating would be easy.

It wasn’t. I described the dating frustrations and failures in my journal.

After five months, my journal had grown to more than 100 pages. I converted it to a short story. I naively queried PlayboyEsquireand the New York Times, thinking those media giants might be interested in a story about a divorced man’s dating woes. They weren’t.

Eventually, two women editors of a local Dana Point newspaper agreed to review my material. On July 7, 1994, just six months after the move-out, my first column was published. I realized that my writing opportunity had grown out of the adversity I had experienced.  

In June 1998, I met Greta, who had experienced adversity as well. She was a single mom, who had raised four kids. She created her own opportunity by becoming a special education teacher and being such a positive force in her students’ lives.

Again, I’m not saying that life after COVID-19 will provide opportunities for everyone. But it will for many. Some readers have already shared their newfound opportunities with me.

Take, for example, Patrick Hynes, a native of Australia who lives in Orange County. During the pandemic, he started publishing a postcard-type of blog, titled Patrick’s Brief Encounters … Snippets of My Life in America. I’ve read them, and they are excellent.

Another example is Wendy Green, also a single mom who raised two children. Wendy has bounced back from adversity more than once in her life. She reached out to me by finding my articles on the Dana Point Times website.

Wendy said, “In March 2020, I was laid off from my job because of COVID. I knew I still had a lot to give, and there were a lot of people from my generation experiencing a sense of loss and in need of inspiration. That is when I decided to start the Hey, Boomer broadcasts.”

Wendy’s website, heyboomer.biz, also features her weekly blogs.

As we emerge from this unthinkable adversity-filled year, it will be up to us as individuals to recognize our seed of opportunity and make the best of it—although we may not realize or understand it until months or years later.

Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: tompblake@gmail.com.

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