Opportunity often arises from adversity

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  November 27, 2020

by Columnist Thomas P Blake

                          Opportunity often arises from adversity

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 fires, smoke, hurricanes, and flooding have added to the adversity.

Adversity leads to opportunity.
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 is highest among the senior population.
However, there is a flicker of hope on the horizon. The vaccines developed so far have been touted to be 90-plus percent effective.
Once this adversity is behind us, opportunities will start to arise for individuals. Jobs will become available. In-person family visits will resume. Senior singles will meet dates face-to-face. 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 how an opportunity can arise from adversity. On Christmas 1993, I was visiting my 82-year-old mom in Northern California. I didn’t know at that time that my life was about to change dramatically. Adversity was already underway; I just didn’t know about it.  
The morning after Christmas, my wife of six years telephoned me at Mom’s to say she had moved out. (She didn’t mention that she had taken what furniture and belongings she wanted).
All I could say was, “Where are you living?”
“Doesn’t matter,” she replied.
And then she said, “Gotta go,” and hung up.
I packed my bag and got in the car. I was so surprised and shocked that I started jotting some notes on a pad of paper during the 500-mile drive home. Soon, those notes were transferred to a journal I started writing, attempting to gather my thoughts, figure out what had happened, and plan for the future.
Three months later, I was served with divorce papers in front of employees and customers at my deli. Of course, that event was described in the journal. 

Making a 30-foot deli sub was more fun than receiving divorce papers at the same deli

I started to date, thinking mid-life dating would be easy. It wasn’t. I described in detail the dating frustrations and failures in my journal.
After five months, the journal had grown to more than 100 pages. I converted it into a short story. I naively queried PlayboyEsquire and 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 the Dana Point News newspaper agreed to review my material. On July 7, 1994, just six months after my wife’s move-out, my first column was published. I realized that my writing opportunity had grown out of the adversity. I certainly didn’t expect the opportunity would last for 26 years.
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 student’s lives.
Hopefully, after Covid-19, all of us will be able to get out and about. Seeds of opportunity will pop up here and there. For whom? In what format? When? No one can say. Some Champs have already shared their new-found opportunities with us. In the October 30 eNewsletter, seven Champs were featured with the opportunities they are working on during Covid-19.
Wendy Green is a new Champ. She is 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. (those broadcasts are scheduled for most Mondays, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.)”
Wendy’s website, http://www.heyboomer.biz also features her weekly blogs. I encourage Champs to sign up and read her sage advice and comments.
As we emerge from this unthinkable adversity-filled year, it will be up to us as individuals to recognize our seeds of opportunity and make the best of them, although we may not realize or understand them until months or years later.
And as always, I hope you will share them with me and subsequently, all Champs.