But most people just waited for December 21st to pass, and then shrugged.
Like so many other things, 2012 turned out to be more bark than bite. A much anticipated national election resulted in, well, not much of anything. As did elections in other parts of the world. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Unrest here, oppression there, and not enough money to go around. Never has been, never will be.
But things have been especially tough lately, not just in the wood and building industries, but in most of the industries, countries, and homes of the world. The few things that have upward trends (US housing, lumber prices, Chinese and Indian standards of living, etc.) started from very low places, and had nowhere to go but up.
But since the world didn't end this year, and since we weren't visited by our other-world progenitors who were to explain the whole mess to us and set us at peace, we will muddle on. And frankly, 2013 doesn't look a whole lot better than 2012.
But it seems to me, that like Prime Minister Churchill's Britain of 1942, the battle will be fought on a different level from now on. Great Britain of that year was the sole remaining bastion against Hitler and his war machine, and they had been steadily yielding ground while regrouping and trying to convince Americans to join the fray. But with decisive victory at El Alamein, Britain had finally reached a point where the defeats were balanced by a semblance of hope. Mr. Churchill put it all in perspective with a remarkable speech that included one of his most memorable statements.
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
The old business cultures and methods that we like to remember fondly are no more, and the world around the corner seems unfamiliar and threatening in many ways.
But the fundamental transformation that we are experiencing, not just here in America but in countries around the world, is one being led not by politicians, but by entrepreneurs around the world, hard-working folks who have the amazing power of technology at their disposal. Even as old business models fail, new models spring to life, and in them are the sparks of ingenuity, energy, and self-realization that often remained dampered in the old economy.
For try as central planners might, they are always a step behind the innovators of the world. The battle for control of resources will continue, and it will certainly leave its ugly watermarks in the coming months and years. But like those embattled Britons of late 1942, we can take hope in the value of right, and the power of economic opportunity.
When I started Go Wood two years ago, I had an uneasy feeling in the back of my mind that I might run out of interesting topics to write about in a few weeks or months. But the fuel for these postings have been the events of everyday life, much of it provided by a social network of like-minded Woodites who have found the blog and become part of it with their contributions and comments.
Amazingly to me, the growth of the site continues on an exponential curve...sometime today the 200,000 reader will click on Go Wood. 2012 saw a 50% increase in the numbers of viewers over 2011, and almost all of that growth is from people who are not on the Go Wood mailing list.
I think that is because, like so many other fields of interest and endeavor, the world of wood, its people, products, and potential consumers, continues to become more connected through the Internet and next-day delivery. Even though many wood products are not the easiest thing to inspect, purchase, or ship via on-line methods, the process which delivers information of fine wood products and their inherent value to society is becoming so detailed and useful that the next generation of consumers is sure to be more aware of wood than any time since the invention of plastics.
Since global extermination is quickly receding into the history of the quirky, and most of the world finds itself in a situation of dire economic straits, but armed with the miracles of modern technology, beauty, durability and practicality will more and more find value in the world. And wood will be there.
May you find in 2013 the hope and inspiration of seeing things in a different, and brighter light.