Hagen: A reset to refocus our fast-paced lives

Luke Hagen column sig.jpg
Mitchell Republic Editor Luke Hagen.

There’s a squinty-eyed black lab soaking up the sun on my backyard patio.

With white and gray blotches of hair patched throughout his body, it’s easy to see he’s in the latter half of his life. Every now and then, he opens his eyelids into the sunlight, looking toward me just to remind himself of the unusuality that his master is at home in the middle of a workday.

Time is what we make it. And today, I’m spending my work time writing this column outside in the 65-degree South Dakota sun alongside Bear, one of my best friends, who’s somewhere around 77 in doggy years.

Since I moved to South Dakota in August 2008, the life train has never slowed. I was married a month after starting my job here, purchased a home in 2009 and got Bear as a puppy later that year.

I blinked and have been married 11 years, raising two beautiful girls and living in a different home on the opposite side of town. Since becoming parents in 2014, the years seemingly go faster.


But time has slowed down as of late.

Like me, people throughout Mitchell, our state and the nation are working from home. If you’re in that position, you know you’re fortunate.

Kids aren’t going to schools. Friends are losing jobs. And businesses everywhere are struggling in one way or another. We’re all trying to manage living life and enduring this pandemic. Of course this is a scary time in all our lives. The anxiety comes from the unknown, as we all want a definitive timeline to end all of this. We all want to get back to warp-speed. We’re missing church gatherings, birthday parties and baseball. Nothing — nothing — was ever supposed to stop baseball, right?

It’s during a time like this that I’m happy to live in what’s considered a flyover state, where we’re sort-of removed from the mass chaos in the urban areas. The community here has been amazing in so many ways in keeping the spread of this awful virus in check. Teachers and school districts are having wave parades — and you see in the eyes of every educator lined up they’d rather be in the classroom with students than spending their time removed. Those events have been a much-needed positive spark.

For the most part, though, I’ve recognized we have a lot to be proud of in spite of all this adversity. I’ve seen people going out of their way to shop small local businesses that need support now more than ever. I’ve noticed more neighborly behavior throughout town and the great ways for us to unite through social distancing. Sidewalk chalk art and Teddy Bear tours are well worth any family’s time.

Some analysts and writers have dubbed this time as “The Great Reset,” or something like that. If this is what we need to reset and refocus us, so be it. It’s a chance to let life slow down a bit for everyone.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve observed countless ways life has changed so drastically. It’s probably why I’ve noticed today more than others the way my lab lives for the day. He enjoys just that moment.

Every now and then, I’ll glance over at Bear and his tail starts thumping against the concrete. All four paws sprawled out, his only worry is when and how much food he’s getting at breakfast and dinner.


Sooner or later, this pandemic will pass and the weeks and years will speed up again. I’m confident of that. But when that happens, I hope we all remember to relax a bit more, stretch out our paws and soak up the sun when it’s shining.

Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at
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