Commentary: 54 Cycles Around the Earth

Super Bowl LII Radio Row at MOA
Just leave, please? – Photo by Randy Stern

Another cycle around the sun. Another year under my belt. And, it’s tough to not complain about it.

This 54th annual celebration of this automotive media person’s birth comes with an anti-climax. Super Bowl LII was played in downtown Minneapolis – a few miles from home/V&R’s headquarters. The crowd was intense. The security zone was truly inconvenient. The weather outside U.S. Bank Stadium was pretty damn cold…below zero at the end of the game.

As for the game itself, the Philadelphia Eagles took the New England Patriots to the limit. They take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time.

Now, the tourists are leaving. I can breathe again. I can drive down certain streets again. We can get our Twin Cities back to normal.

Yet, the relative calm lends to some activity towards the end of the week. The 2018 Chicago Auto Show is a few days away. It will be my eighth-straight year attending media days. My plan is to be there for just one day – fly-in, work and fly out. It is not what you’re supposed to do, but its something I have to do.

However, there is a major change in strategy for this year’s Chicago Auto Show. I am sharing coverage duties with my friends and collaborators at slashMedia. Kevin, Rezal, Josh, and Veronica will be on the floor for both media days, including social media days. Between the five of us, we will be able to give you a unique perspective of a major auto show. For me, it’ll be a routine year. For them, I hope the slashMedia will take the experience of Chicago and apply it to their future automotive-related work.

That is just a few days away. What about this day?

It’s just any other, really. The cliches are ripe to remind me that I should do something special for it or find a way to make it more special than the rest of the year. I always try to do that, but on a more private and personal level. Or, mark it on here as some sort of reflection of the years I have lived and what future I have left in front of me.

Marking number 54 is not a significant one. The next one is supposed to be. Yet, our society has changed to de-emphasize that age as the so-called “retirement age.” Simply because humans in so-called industrialized nations seem to live longer and are working well into their later years. Maybe that observation is generational – especially for those born after World War II in the USA.

Why celebrate an age where not a lot of people are looking forward to retirement?

Sadly, it is also an age that health should be a higher priority than it is. While we do not prioritize retirement in our lives, our bodies and the way we use or abuse them become a greater factor towards mortality. Considering my current state of things, I fear this more than ever.

Do I have the endurance to make it? This is a major question I must ask myself. Why celebrate this day if the answer is negative?

A major part of our health outlook is the growing omnipresence of stress. There are two messages being played out daily – we are a sick society and we can help you be better. Yes, e have been talking about how our collective and individual emotional health has been challenged by short- and long-term stressors. The number of suicides are up, if you measure it through the news coverage of them. We are talking about depression and anxiety more yet it just seems we’re not doing anything about them. Our love of screens – laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, etc. – and what appears upon them are not helping us feel better about lives and society in general. At the same time, we’re putting messages out on how we can help those suffering from these emotional ailments. We also campaign for suicide prevention. Yet, there are sections of the “we” that could give a damn if you lived or died today.

Would we want to celebrate in the face of all of the above?

With the forces of society stirring up for a mixture of life similar to a condensed, convenient, and colorful ball of laundry detergent, I still celebrate this day. I celebrate it by working this craft, doing my research, preparing for my first auto show of the year, and taking a break to breathe. No need for celebrations, bakery, and flames on top of wax figures. Just another day in the life of this member of the automotive media.

After all, it is just another ride around the orbit of the universe.

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