Looking Back

By: John A. Lanier

Ray, I know you’re looking down on us from above, and I hope we are making you proud. Thank you for the gifts you have given to us as a family, and for the legacy you have entrusted to us.

Happy birthday, Ray. Today would have been his 87th lap around the sun, which I realize isn’t a particularly noteworthy occasion. After all, we humans like our 5s and 10s when it comes to anniversaries. And in two weeks, we’ll have one of those - August 8th will mark the 10th year since his passing. If you ask me, I’d say these milestones offer the perfect bookends for a series of blogs on the past, present, and future.

I’ll kick it off with a look backward, and my, what a decade it has been. For me personally, I was taking Georgia’s bar exam almost exactly ten years ago. Since successfully navigating those two nerve-wracking days, I have started a job, moved to a new neighborhood, met a super cool lady, started working for the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, got married to said super cool lady, moved again, had a kid, adopted another kid, wrote a book, and took a turn at teaching preschool from home for those two kids because of that pandemic thing. All along the way, I’ve come to realize how incredibly blessed I am - blessed by my family and friends, blessed by meaningful work, blessed by my health, and blessed by a faith that has kept me grounded through the highs and the lows.

At a global level, it’s been a remarkable decade as well. There are so many noteworthy historical events, from Gangnam Style being the first YouTube video to reach 1 billion views to the creation of the Ice Bucket Challenge. If you want meaningful historical events to go along with such silliness, we’ve seen the #MeToo movement come to life, Britain leave the European Union, the first photograph of a black hole, the groundbreaking Paris Climate Accord, and the worst pandemic in 100 years. That’s also just scratching the surface of these past ten years.

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