I’ve been planning to write something here since early March, and suddenly it’s July. I’m sitting on a big backlog of ideas and pictures and projects to share, but they start to feel irrelevant by the time I get around to writing the words.

Massive changes are underway in the world–some terrifying, some exciting, many without recent precedent. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be in good physical and financial health, surrounded by at least my immediate family, while we wait to see what comes next.

Approaching today, the eve of a milestone birthday, a number of people have asked me if I have a theme for the next decade: a plan, goals, a roadmap? I don’t. In a summer of disease, travel cancellations, and political upheaval, long-term planning feels like a quaint idea. Perhaps it needn’t be. Earlier this spring, I made an effort to drop my near-hourly headline-reading habit to stay focused on the bigger picture, favoring weekly news round-ups, analytical monthlies, and books. It was good while it lasted but I’ve sort of lapsed.

What use is the short-term news cycle? Should I be surprised that the pandemic still kills people who reject the science or can’t afford to heed it? Or to learn that police brutality is an on-demand service in the United States? Or to find that the president has done another incredibly dumb thing? Everyone is so focused on the short term that the long term vision is rarely mentioned.

Maybe I do need a plan for my next decade. What seems to be missing from America on the eve of its birthday is a set of guiding principles that everyone continues to believe in. I’m lucky to still have mine.