Tucson teacher Daniel Gaona: The power to find a silver lining, even during coronavirus

Tucson teacher Daniel Gaona: The power to find a silver lining, even during coronavirus

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Thrown out of work in 2016, journalist Daniel Gaona had to hit the reset button. Now he counts his blessings with Stephanie and Daniel Jr.

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

I’ve always been a fan of finding the silver lining in a negative situation.

For instance, let’s say the Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team made a surprisingly early exit from the always highly anticipated NCAA tournament — hypothetically, you know?

Most local UA fans would naturally be pretty disappointed, but shouldn’t we instead be thankful of all the time previously devoted to watching basketball that was freed up by the loss? That’s a silver lining!

I know, too soon, but do you get my point?

The more difficult or painful a situation might be, the more important it is to find a silver lining. And as tough as it might be right now amidst the COVID-19 crisis, finding that silver lining is just about the only thing that will keep us going.

Everyone’s life features plenty of ups and downs — they’re more of a guarantee than 100-degree temps throughout summertime in Tucson.

For me, one of my biggest downs came in the summer of 2016. It was my mom’s birthday, and we were on a family trip in New York City. I stepped away for a phone call that changed my life.

Don’t worry, nobody died. But my position as high school sports editor at the Arizona Daily Star had been eliminated. Out of nowhere, I was unemployed. More importantly, I had just lost the job I loved so much.

I was passionate about what I did, and I couldn’t believe that was all gone without having a chance to really say goodbye.

I decided I didn’t want to think about all that anymore; I just wanted to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

Later that night, I finally broke the news to my parents. As the words came out of my mouth, a few tears came from my eyes. However, I swore to look at the negative situation as a blessing and find the silver lining.

I was terribly sad to leave the Star so unexpectedly, but I knew life was going to go on, and I knew I’d one day look back and be better off.

I was right.

This month wraps up my third year at Flowing Wells High School. As I first ventured into the teaching world in 2016, I also happened to meet the woman who would become my wife. Stephanie and I got married two years after that, and we now have a 9-month-old son, Daniel Jr.

That’s quite the silver lining, right?

Even though I did love my old job, any sports reporter can tell you about how demanding the career can be.

Late nights in the newsroom have been replaced by reading bedtime stories to my little guy, and weekend assignments have instead been traded for family adventures. I got to this point by remaining hopeful and optimistic. I knew I would find the silver lining someday.

Amidst our current worldwide crisis, it’s a little harder to keep hope and think about what the silver lining could be. Could there even be a one?

People are getting sick and dying, workers are losing jobs, families are struggling to get by and students of all ages were robbed of the final stretch of their school year. My heart goes out to everyone struggling during this difficult time.

Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher, but my heart aches most for all the seniors who missed out on those final days of high school that are so special. No prom, no last pep rally, no last day of classes and no regular graduation.

However, as we first ventured into the world of online learning, it was heartwarming to hear students share how much time they were getting to spend with their families. It was about the same time I realized how fortunate I was to be able to be working from home with my son and wife by my side.

Throughout the days as I navigated Google Classroom, I was also able to squeeze in some laughs and smiles with D.J., as we call him. My wife has also been able to work from home periodically, so it’s been even more of a treat having three family meals a day.

Maybe the silver lining of this whole thing is the family and personal time many have been able to soak in. Maybe all this is a reminder of the importance of taking care of ourselves and spending time with our loved ones.

While there’s no denying the negatives around the world, think about the positive memories you’ve been able to create. Whether you live on your own with pets or with a spouse and children, you’re definitely going to be able to look back on this strange and historic time and smile about something — even if it was a friend leaving a few rolls of toilet paper on your porch.

We’ll all be able to look back at all the good that has come out of this, such as all the much-deserved appreciation for the medical professionals fighting this battle on the front lines. It’s similar to the gratitude first responders received after the Sept. 11 attacks. It shouldn’t, however, take a tragedy for those heroes to get our praise.

Seniors will also be able to look back on the final quarter of high school and remember how unique things were. Flowing Wells High School is having a graduation parade spread out over two nights this week. How in the world could anyone forget that?

One more silver lining that we can pull out of this is the way students and teachers across the country so quickly adapted to the change and transitioned to online learning with ease. We now know so much more than we did before, and we understand the possibilities that exist with the technology present.

As for sports, wasn’t it a silver lining to rewatch and relive the Arizona Wildcats’ NCAA national championship win in 1997 instead of sweating out a likely loss in the first or second round a couple months ago?

For me, I’ll always look back on this time and remember all the extra time my wife and I were able to spend with our little guy – precious time with him we would have missed out on in a normal world. Hopefully everyone else with children big and small can view it the same way and appreciate really how special this time has been.

We’ll bounce back together, and the economy will recover once we get through this challenging time. It might be hard to see that in the moment, but finding that silver lining can help.

I hope you can find your silver lining, regardless of everything going on around you today.

Daniel Gaona is a Tucson native, former Star sports reporter and now teacher at Flowing Wells High School.

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