For a lot of people, the year 2020 was awful. We were hardly into it when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. For me personally, it started off really bad. On January 13th, my father passed away, which for me like so many other people was a time of sadness, hurt and pain. Shortly thereafter, I had an minor outpatient procedure but ended up in hospital with an internal bleed. Then came the pandemic – shelter in place, wear a mask, don’t touch anyone, shortages of things like toilet paper, rubbing alcohol and even beans!
To be honest, I struggled through the year. I didn’t see my daughter and her husband for more than 30 minutes during the year and my grandchildren for only 10 days. Playing the banjo lost its appeal – and there are no sad banjo songs! We saw social events cancelled, charitable fundraisers moved to virtual, and then volunteering during the early voting and day-of voting in the Georgia general election and Senate run-offs was an exercise in restraint as people from both political sides tried to goad us into a wrongful comment or reaction.
I know that I didn’t have it as bad as many others who lost loved ones to Covid, the people who died alone because of social distancing requirements, and the faithful workers in our grocery, drug, and other stores. But I still struggled.
I hoped that 2021 would be a turning point, one in which we emerged from the awful year of 2020 with new hope, vigor and energy; but for me, early in the year, that didn’t happen. It seemed that 2021 would just be more of the same horrible 2020 but just a year later. Then like the lucky few, I qualified for the Pfizer vaccine. I got my two shots, felt like death warmed over after the second one (to which my doc said was a ‘good’ thing) and moved on. I have hoped that the distribution of vaccine would accelerate and spread throughout the world and we could get back to whatever normal is.
I took the picture at the top of this article at about 6:30am at Pawleys Island, South Carolina in the United States. At the time it simply looked nice to me. I think I was looking for light, for hope, for something, any damn thing positive. I now realize that like so many of my fellow citizens of the world, I spent the entire year of 2020 in a dark depression. I have thought a lot about what was lost this past year. We have been stuck at home with all of our possessions, the crap accumulated over a lifetime; whether 20 years, 65 years or 95 years. That stuff isn’t enough. We need and desire human connection. Not just with our family, but with friends, acquaintances and yes, even strangers. That is what is truly valuable. That is the lesson of 2020, forget (as George Carlin would say) your shit; because all the stuff you own is really just shit to other people. Remember what counts are human relationships and interaction. That is all that is important, really, that is all.
At the time that I took that picture, the image to me was simply…pretty, now it is a sign of hope and a new day. We have the ability as a world to defeat this virus that has deprived us of our lives for the past year. We have the ability to ensure that not only a guy like me can be vaccinated but so can the person in Kenya, India, Mozambique, New Zealand, Japan, China, and anywhere else in the world. We have the ability to set things right again, to come to our senses and place real value on what is important; not stuff (i.e., shit), not politics on either side, not on social media, not sports or entertainment, but on decent, real, and honest personal interaction. That to me is the lesson of 2020. It isn’t flashy or sexy but it is real and it is what we, or rather I, needed to learn.
I don’t know who reads my ramblings (if anyone) but it is cathartic for me to write them. If you have struggled during the pandemic, I hope that you get some positive feeling from my reflections and thoughts. I wish you the best in the brighter days that are surely to come. Don’t give up hope.
Peace to you all.