There’s very little that 2020 truly taught me, though it may have driven a few untested lessons home like a pile-driver, and I’d give myself a “C” at best, for most of them. Among the things that 2020 has taught me is that life’s too short for superficial platitudes, so I’m not going to give you any – even if a few of them ring true.
Solitude is Only Sweet When It’s By Choice
The first revelation, though, is that empathetic introverts suffer anxiety when the extroverts around them are climbing the walls. And then, we begin not to revel in our solitude as much as we otherwise might. It becomes obvious that choice is key to the difference between solitude and house arrest, and I began to see that there has always been a flaw to my logic – that if I were ever to commit a crime, I’d pray for solitary confinement. Instead, I think I’ll recommit to living a good and honest life, because there is no happy in between – and I’m not cut out for gen pop or solitary.
Life Can Be a Journey or a Series of Holding Patterns
Some people learned to bake sourdough bread. Others learned a new language. I learned to make an easy Dutch oven bread and I bought a lifetime subscription to Rosetta Stone I haven’t used, yet. Does that count? Was that my one nod to hope – to assume that I would actually have a lifetime beyond 2020, in order to make that purchase worthwhile?
Maybe it was just too much of a sad reminder of ruined travel plans, but had hope really been more than a half-glowing ember with a patina of gray ash, I might have started learning Portuguese. But it’s still there – I at least kept my options open. I have saved concert tickets rescheduled from last September to next. I have plans for a year from now, and if that’s not “hope,” what is? I always said that a pessimist is just an optimist who can’t take disappointment. So, if ever I seem pessimistic, remember that. It’s not negativity – it’s keeping the fluttering butterflies of hope under the net till it’s time to fly. That’s all.
Tomorrow May Never Come
Reach out and let old friends know you’re thinking of them. A friend died, over the summer. I hadn’t seen her since March or talked to her in nearly a month before she died. She died alone, and was found four days later. She’d be the first to remind me that the phone worked both ways and not to beat myself up over that, and she’d be right. It was a bittersweet chance for me to get to know her cousin better, and to touch base with mutual friends and former colleagues I hadn’t talked to in 10-20 years. We think we have all the time in the world, but none of us do.
Isn’t it funny how, as we grow older, the news that some celebrity has died “aged 97” or so, no longer elicits a casual, “Good for them – that was a good long life!” Yeah, and so would 100 have been. But having said that, I don’t think I’d choose immortality. The world needs young people with new ideas. Not young people reinventing the wheel for no particularly good reason, but fresh ideas and innovations. To the young people out there: That’s not just another app for tracking Instagram followers, you hear me? That’s cybersecurity, peace, affordable healthcare and housing for all, eliminating hunger, mitigating the effects of climate change…
2020 and 2019 Were Friends
Remember when we toasted to the start of 2020, a brand new decade, yelling at 2019 not to let the door hit it on the way out?
I’m convinced that they were friends. Just as those high school nerds might have been friends with your secret crush, 2019 was friends with 2020. And 2020 saw how we treated 2019. Maybe we forgot to stop and appreciate the things that went well. Surely, there were a few? Maybe we were just too eager to get it over with, and rushed through life with blinders on. Well, 2020 sure showed us, didn’t it?
So I suggest that, this New Year’s Eve, we toast to a strange and sometimes tragic year, but make an effort to remember whatever good things it brought, and bless it on its way out, even as we welcome 2021. Just in case they’re still on speaking terms.