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Local Column

Olson: Ready for decade's final chapter

The new year approaches, and like a writer already neck deep in a long and winding story, we’re faced with the crucial question: How do we end this thing?

The “thing” in this case is the 2010s, the decade that most of us have survived 90 percent of so far.

There’s a year, a last chapter to go, and it starts Tuesday, when 2019 begins. As always, it’s a whole new year filled with promise and potential. An empty canvas awaiting our brushstrokes.

A year is a long time – not in the historical sense, usually, but in the human sense.

We publish a lot of “year in review” stories this time of year, and the events of the earlier part of the year often seem to have been much longer ago.

I suppose that’s part of the reason we write them, to remind ourselves.

The coming year will be the capstone of a decade, which, if not monumental in the course of history, at least can be the subject of an hourlong cable TV documentary.

There will be a lot of longer-term reflection at this time next year. We’ll write the first stories about the 2010s: The digital decade. When smartphones took over the world. When Barack Obama’s “Hope and change” gave way to Donald Trump’s “America first.” When the Cubs won the World Series and Northern Illinois went to the Orange Bowl.

We’ll all have our personal stories, too.

Think of where and who you were in 2010, and how much has changed since then. Personally, I live in a different town. I work in a different job at a different newspaper. I have a third daughter.

Yet somehow I’m still driving the same car (Consumer Reports was right about the ’05 Toyota Highlander).

But the story of the decade isn’t over yet for me, or for anyone. We’ve got a whole year ahead of us to put the finishing touches on it. How’s the story going to end?

It might be with a flourish, something dramatic that changes everything and alters our path as we veer into the 2020s. Unless it’s something great, I kind of hope not. The year 2001 was a monumental one – but I’m hard-pressed to point to any of the changes it wrought as positive.

Yet we have pressed on, through that and the other challenges life has dealt us all, for many years since. In the end, it’s about the journey, and our collective journey will continue into 2019, when we’ll write the final chapter of a decade that has been transformative.

Here’s hoping the final chapter of the 2010s brings peace and prosperity. Happy New Year, everyone.

• Eric Olson is general manager of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, email or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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