Every year about this time, the media in every form puts out their version of a year in review. It is usually focused on the big events of the world or the country, emphasizing the storylines that their editorial staff find the most compelling. It is also normal for each of us individually to take the calendar year end to consider our own story in review; the personal impact of the events of the year on ourselves and the ones we love. If a major story of 2021 is the ongoing battle of Covid and its broad-brush effect on the world, there are of course untold numbers of individual stories generated as well. Heartbreaking in so many instances, annoying in almost every case, profitable in some, bankrupting in others. Or how about the story of three different private companies, run by three different billionaires, putting civilians into space without the direct help of a government. On a global scale, the story of space is changed forever. In the case of the Space X Inspiration 4 flight, four civilians with barely 6 months of training spent 3 days in space at an altitude not achieved since we went to the moon. Those four people have changed the story and legacy of their families in dramatic form. No matter what else happens in their life and to those they someday leave behind, that journey and those 3 days will dominate the storyline. Other personally dominating events can produce the same result for a family, but because of a much sadder story. A life lost or home destroyed by fire or flood or wind or war. Random death by violence or disease or a car wreck will create family stories that will start with “in 2021”.
I was born in 1961, two days after a Navy Captain named Alan Shepard was shot into space and became the first American to enter orbit above the earth. My parents named me in honor of that man and that event; my small connection to space, but a story that I enjoy the benefit of telling. Someday I may have enough money that I would be willing to pay for a ride on the Richard Branson express and feel, even if for a few minutes, the same thing my namesake felt a half century before. But I won’t be remembered for it, I will only be one of hundreds or thousands at that point to do it. Yes, civilians into space for the fun of it is a 2021 story. A decade from now, or even by next year, it will be a “what I did last weekend” story.
In my 2021 life, I got a breakthrough case of COVID despite full vaccination, that turns out to be no news at all, but I sure didn’t like it much. On the brighter side, I celebrated 36 years of marriage and 43 years of knowing the most amazing woman to ever enter my life. An engagement for one of our children, new jobs and adventures for other children, an amazing sailing trip in the unbelievable waters of the Bahamas. The company Allison and I founded 7 years ago found footing in the wake of the 2020 economic disaster that was (and is) COVID, and scored victories in product development and market entry, regulatory advancement and meaningful problem solving. We made amazing hires, had sad goodbye’s, watched smart and talented people grow and excel, celebrated engagements, marriages, babies, and birthdays. Maybe the overarching story of the company called WaterFleet will be how culture matters and brought us through an unprecedented time of pain. A comeback for the ages fueled by the heart and determination of amazing individuals that worked as a team.
I’m very proud of the world’s I belong to, the ones I call personal. My wife, my family and friends, my work; its where the question should most appropriately get asked.
What is the story of 2021? While there is a lot to choose from on the global scale, don’t forget to ask that at the personal level because those stories are more meaningful than the noisy world ones, and they are the ones worth remembering.
-Alan Pyle, CEO