By George Stahl
Special to the Sun

Since people began counting, numbers have had a substantial influence in our lives. We use them in every aspect of everything we do. Remember in school when the teacher was trying to get us to understand what numbers do, and we said to ourselves, ‘I’m never going to have to use this, why learn it.’? Looking back on those words, are you surprised that you can’t count how many times you had to use it?

There are some people who count everything. Literally, everything. It’s the first thing they do when they come into a room, or get into a car, or sit down at the table. Counting makes them feel better, relaxed, and safe. To some, numbers are tools they use and put away after they use them. It’s all relative to who you are, how you understand numbers, and how much you want to use them.

Today, however, is a day that we all use the same four numbers worldwide. They are the New Year numbers. Most of you over 30 years old remember when the New Year numbers carried supposed prophetic life-changing events with them. At the turn of the 21st Century, the year 2000 was the first of these. When that New Year’s Eve ball fell in Times Square, everyone was glued to their televisions, computer screens, Androids, radios, or on the streets of New York, watching it live. When it reached the bottom, the anxiety level rose to the sky. When the clock chimed the last bell of midnight, all chaos was going to explode in the computer world. It was cyber Armageddon. Y2K was upon the whole world, and we were goners. After the dust settled, and social media was running rampant with more predictions, explanations, and reasoning, nothing happened. Everyone’s bank accounts, stock market holdings, and smart lives were still intact, and no harm came to humanity with the new millennium. ‘Phew’ was the uniform word of the day. Most of the counters of the world breathed a sigh of relief, and true to form, they started counting again.

Then, in 2012, an even larger scale assault on humanity was going to take place. According to scholars and some scientists, the calendar created by the Mayan civilization was coming to an end, and that meant, that the world was going to follow. This was not the first time an end of the world scenario was given to us, but it was by far the most reliable, according to the counters. We were willing to put our fate into the hands of a civilization of people who, themselves disappeared from the planet before their calendar ran out, and who claimed to be influenced by gods from the sky.

Nonetheless, we were all going to go the way of the dinosaurs and poof, dust, just like that. As the Mayans would say, depending on which language the ancients spoke, ‘el Mundo ha terminado!’

Well, if you are reading this, obviously, neither of those scenarios came to fruition. That doesn’t mean though, that there weren’t millions of people who believed that one or the other was possible. It doesn’t negate the fact that there were people who were so influenced by the numbers that they actually were taking steps to counteract the outcomes of the warnings. Even though something may not come out like you thought it would, the way you got to that point is very real. Those numbers impacted the world, and those numbers were real, it was the interpretations of them that were faulty.

Keeping that last sentence in mind, we are brought to this New Year, and the numbers involved today. 2020. In the world of optometry, these numbers mean a clear vision, normal sight, and for the patient not to have to wear glasses. ‘A perfect set of peepers’ as it were.

So, keeping with the theme of numbers and their meaning or message to us, is that what we will see this year? A clarity on the part of world leaders, and those in charge everywhere? A unified way of looking at the big picture and seeing where our collective eyesight can be improved? Remember, the clearer something becomes, more sides of it are exposed. If we ever do see the world that way, 2020 could be a year of some really big surprises for a lot of people.

We could be in for a world with no agendas, no hidden meanings or subliminal messages being flashed around us. Eventually, people will shout out, as if having an epiphany, ‘Hey! I get it now. That’s how we do that. That’s how it’s supposed to be, we got this everyone, right?’

Imagine, you are sitting in the eye doctor’s chair, the room is dimly lit, and you are starring at a map of the world projected on the wall in front of you. There is a machine over your eyes, and there is a clicking sound as lenses change inside the machine, and the doctor says, “Is your vision of the world…better or worse. Better, worse, better…the same?’ with each click.

In 365 days, we will be welcoming 2021. Will we have forgotten 2020? Will we have been given our perfect vison back, or will we still be needing Lasik? We have a whole year to think about how clearly, we want to see things, and how we will react when we do. The world is not going to change entirely in 2020, but maybe it can start with our individual vision of how things are and how they could be. ‘Better…worse…’ or will we be saying a year from now, ‘We should have seen that coming, I guess hindsight really was 2020.’