Column: 2020 offered several learning experiences

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
The Northeast Dubois girls basketball team stands for the national anthem before a game earlier this season in Dubois.

By JIMMY LAFAKIS
jlafakis@dcherald.com

Several years ago, I made a choice that left a profound impact on my life. I decided to immerse myself in John Wooden’s principles and teachings. Although I never met the wise man from Martinsville, I felt a certain connection with his work.

Wooden has a bevy of quotes for a variety of scenarios. Remember when Apple marketed its products with the slogan, “There’s an app for that?” If you find yourself in an adverse situation, there’s likely a Wooden quote for that.

As I reflected on 2020, one particular quote rose to the forefront of my mind, Wooden once said, “We don’t have to be superstars to win championships. All we have to do is rise to every occasion, give our best effort and make those around us better as we do it.”

There’s no denying it — 2020 was tough. However, my experiences within the local communities in and around Dubois County have shed some light on the future.

I have worked in Jasper for just more than three months. That’s not a particularly long period of time, but I have noticed several key traits while I’ve been here.

When I speak with area student-athletes, I always feel optimistic. They have gained remarkable senses of perspective. They know that safety is the main priority, but they are also eager to represent their schools and communities.

Their fervor for their schools has left an impact on me. I’ve often heard teachers and faculty members say that they learn quite a bit from students. Now, I know what they mean.

These young men and women are adjusting to the current landscape. Their determination has opened my eyes. Their positive attitudes are beacons of hope for the future.

I also see the raw emotions from another angle — my camera lens. Documenting this unprecedented year in photographs is something I will never take for granted. Journalism is known as the first draft of history, and these moments should not be forgotten.

When I looked back on some of my photographs from 2020, I was reminded of another Wooden quote. This man gave the world some true gems, so here’s another: “You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.”

His words ring true for me, as I am focusing on incremental improvement in 2021. I encourage you to take time for yourself this year.

I’m very fortunate to have returned to my home state of Indiana in 2020. Being back in the Hoosier State just feels right. I enter 2021 with an open mind and approach the new year with gratitude.

It is time to apply what I have learned. I invite you to join me on this journey.

We don’t have to be superstars. We just have to make those around us better.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com