News reports from last month's Miami International Boat Show (Feb. 17-21) paint a glowing picture: attendance leaped 14 percent over last year, and a marine industry survey showed that companies expect sales to grow by 5 percent in 2011. Add that to a few recent financial successes reported by marine companies from the fourth quarter and a rise in overall U.S. consumer confidence, and the trend so many of us have talked about in recent months starts to look real.
Yes, there are other pressing issues: high unemployment rates, rising food and health-care costs and, more directly, the price of fuel. What will happen at the pumps this summer amid volatile confrontations in the Arab world? That's a big question. But when gas prices soared previously, anglers found ways to save fuel yet still fish and enjoy the water.
So my real question is: Who is driving this bus?... Consumers? Media? The Obama Administration? Wall Street? Futures markets? China? Marketing moguls?
Of course, that's a rhetorical question. I don't expect to understand how our complicated economy works and what factors - if any - really "control" it. The only thing I can control is my own reaction, and I will not discount the effects of keeping a positive attitude. If an upbeat outlook can reduce stress and create good will in others, it can certainly spread to bigger issues and societal concerns.
That's not an excuse for naivety or a call for silly "sunny" optimism. But belief in ourselves as a culture, belief in our ability to think outside the box and to right a sinking ship has kept this country moving forward through seemingly insurmountable odds. Whenever we revisit the best parts of human nature and remember how to work together, we thrive.
Who's driving this bus? I am. You are. We are rebuilding.