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February 21, 2019

IN SPITE OF IT ALL, DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’

So here we are nearing the end of February and this winter really seems to be dragging on, way more so than most. As I just start to get over my third cold in the last three months, I feel like I am usually seeing the light at the end of the tunnel by now, especially with spring training officially underway. Well, that theoretical tunnel is nowhere to be found.

Sure, Chicago winters are never a treat and I should be used to Mother Nature’s wrath by now after spending my entire life here, but this one seems particularly brutal. As I get older, I now understand why people I once mocked at a younger age choose to become Arizona or Florida snowbirds for the winter. The latest rendition of the polar vortex was excruciating and the continuous cycle of snow, ice, slush, freezing rain, wind chill warnings and winter weather advisories are just wearing me down.

Of course, it is more than the weather that has contributed to this long winter season. Consider some of the headlines making news over the past few weeks. On a national level, we have experienced an unnecessary government shut down, a seemingly never-ending investigation into Russian collusion, an alleged national emergency at the southern US border, a massive divide in our nation growing wider by the day and Amazon being spurned by New York (or vice versa) along with the realization that this entire Amazon HQ2 search was a gigantic waste of time and energy. In Chicago, we have witnessed another senseless mass shooting in Aurora causing loss of innocent lives, no let-up in the ridiculous amounts of shootings and crime around town, the apparently fraudulent saga of Jussie Smollett, a mess of a mayoral campaign with no clear front runner, corrupt aldermen being investigated by the FBI, and yet another lawsuit trying to stop what would be a transformation addition to Chicago in the Obama Presidential Center (didn’t we learn from the Lucas Museum debacle?). Last but not least, we cannot forget Sterling Bay’s battle to get the Lincoln Yards development approved amidst neighborhood backlash.

Do I dare even bring up the Chicago sports scene?  It will be a long while before I am over the Cody Parkey “double doink” debacle and these feelings were exasperated after watching the most uninspiring Super Bowl ever played. Now we have the Bulls being just good enough to fail in their “Dyin for Zion” pursuit and the Blackhawks alternating from being a candidate for the first pick in the draft to sneaking into the playoffs and likely losing in the first round.  Meanwhile, the Cubs are dealing with all of kinds of off the field distractions and as for the Sox, damn you, Manny Machado!

Are you still there? Have I depressed you enough yet? While it is so easy to let all of these things get you down, believe it or not, there is still some good out there to help us push through. For example, how about the group of good Samaritans who pooled their money together and put over 70 homeless people up in a hotel for all three nights of the polar vortex.  Then there are the relatively small, but still meaningful, acts of kindness like a group of people I witnessed running to assist a man at Ogilvie Transportation Center who tripped and fell and, in the process, dropped a gigantic box filled with Girl Scout cookies on the train tracks (all were successfully rescued, as it would be a tragedy to let a perfectly good box of Tagalongs go to waste). Next, there was a real estate broker I recently completed a deal with who donated 100% of his sizable commission to the not-for-profit group he represented. The funds were used to benefit a number of underprivileged children in their quest for a better education. These acts of kindness, no matter the size, still give me hope that all is not lost with the world. Will everything suddenly get better once temperatures start to rise and the sun begins to shine more frequently? Probably not, but at least our collective demeanors will be brighter. After all, there is no better city in America than Chicago in the summer (until we have our first 90-degree day and I start complaining again about the heat and humidity). Till then, to quote the great Steve Perry of Journey fame, “Don’t stop believin’.”