Opinion: ‘Momentum and attitude is everything’

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance attempts to offer hope and encouragement to others

I fully admit that I’m often guilty of recency bias. You know, the phenomenon that we tend to remember things that just happened to us more clearly, and assign greater value to them, than things that happened to us longer ago. That said, I struggle to think of a time in my life when I was in more need of encouragement than this morning.

A pastor once shared with me that the way God serves us is He sends His people to us during a time of need. At that time (in 1993), the wisdom of the pastor’s words played out in a very personal way as my then wife and I were flooded by the support of so many others after the loss of our daughter Jennifer.

After a long work day Monday, I couldn’t sleep last night. I was beyond discouraged. I wasn’t feeling any hope. When it came to emotions, I was like a sponge that was soaked with so much water that it just couldn’t absorb anything else. The world just isn’t a very happy place right now.

I have had no idea recently how to deal with my own feelings and emotions so I haven’t even attempted to share any thoughts with you, in this space, on social media or anywhere else for that matter. But, today, I was blessed with the boost of hope and encouragement from others so I’m going to share my experiences today and maybe they just might offer some hope and encouragement to at least one of you.

The start of something positive

As has happened so many times in my life, I was blessed by other human beings today. It all started with a Facebook share by my good friend, Clark County Today Administrator Heidi (Case) Wetzler. It’s a six-minute video made by a Reno, Nevada man named Diaz Dixon. I had never heard of Dixon before viewing the video, but I think that when he made the video he was feeling some of the same emotions I was feeling in the last 24 hours.

Click to view video. Video courtesy Diaz Dixon via Facebook.

First of all, it was ironic that in the beginning of the video, Dixon said he had just filled up his gas tank and was prepared to take a long drive. I confess to you, the only thing I could think about last night when I couldn’t sleep was doing the same thing.

I did a search for Diaz Dixon (he mentioned in the video he was in Reno, Nevada) on Google and it produced some immediate results. Here’s a story in Nevada Business Magazine from last fall about Dixon being named to the Board of Directors of Eddy House, the central intake and assessment facility for homeless and at-risk youth in Northern Nevada. 

If you’re hesitant about viewing the video I shared because you’re concerned it contains a political agenda or bias, I understand. Most things on social media do. But, don’t be. I’ve watched it three times. If it contains an agenda or bias, I’m not sophisticated enough to sniff it out.

There are many granules of wisdom packed into this six-minute video, each worthy of you to grab and hold of so tightly that maybe it can help you get through at least a minute of this time we’re going through. But, the one statement he made that resonated with me the most, was this:

“Positivity will gain momentum, it will roll forward, just like negativity will,’’ he said. “So, this morning, don’t wake up pointing fingers. That’s only going to create a greater divide. It’s time to embrace one another.’’

For me, there’s actually two strong messages in that one comment. The second reminds me of the impetus I used for another column many years ago. The Los Angeles riots of 1992 occurred after four members of the Los Angeles Police Department violently and viciously arrested Rodney King, who sustained serious injuries as a result of the incident. The acquittal in a state court of the four defendants, who were charged with using excessive force, led to the riots.

In a plea for an end to the riots, King made a now-famous impassioned plea. “Can we all just get along?’’ They were simple words, yet so profound, even to this day. I can honestly say that I think of him saying those words more than you will ever know.

The other half of Dixon’s comment that gave me hope and encouragement today was his statement that “positivity will gain momentum.’’ It’s a concept that has long been something I’ve strived for and believed wholeheartedly in.

During my now 33-year career in journalism, I’ve been blessed to interact with some amazing people right here in Clark County. One of those people was Mark Mansell, the former superintendent of the La Center School District. I remember Mark once told me, “I’m a science teacher, that’s my background. So, I approach everything from that perspective. There’s always going to be energy present. It can be negative energy, or it can be positive energy. But, there’s always going to be one or the other.’’

A family perspective

Finally, I’ve shared with you before that I have been blessed in my life with a great family. My mom and dad are both gone, and have been for more than 20 years now. Thankfully, all three of my wonderful older brothers are still with me.

The second-oldest of my brothers, Dale Vance, has driven trucks his entire adult life, dating back to the time he graduated from Stevenson High School. He loves it and never wanted to do anything else. Now, nearing the age of 65, he only drives part-time in a small trucking company owned by his son Kevin.

At many points in his career, Dale owned his own trucks. One of those was a logging truck, which he painted a message on the rear axle of the trailer. The placement allowed those travelling behind him to see the message whether he was loaded with logs or not.

The message read: “Momentum and attitude is everything.’’

I called my brother today to confirm my memory of his message (it was many years ago) and he told me a story that I had never heard before. The motto is a culmination of his own beliefs, but it was born out of teachings from our dad, Roy Vance, also a former truck driver.

“It was a variation of what dad would always tell me when he was teaching me how to drive truck,’’ Dale said. “It all came from how dad taught me to drive truck. Without each one, the other one won’t work. It’s a great saying if you really study it.’’

I couldn’t agree more my brother.