Looking Back, Looking Forward
What a year it has been! I would wish everyone a happy new year but that’s what we said last year and look what happened. How about a “new and improved” year? One way to celebrate the arrival of 2021 would be to burn the 2020 calendar. Yet just turning the calendar page isn’t going to make that much of a change, not just yet.
One of the hardest aspects of this pandemic year was the irony of being asked to do good by doing nothing. That is, staying home and seeing few people, wearing masks and keeping our distance from others. Of course many people have been actively doing good. They include the doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel and first responders who have been putting their lives on the line for others.
The best way to show support for all these people is to do your best to keep from getting and spreading the virus, so that our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. When hospitals are overcrowded, sick people, including those with non-Covid emergencies such as heart attacks, may not be able to get the care they need. Let us also praise the public health officials, doctors, and scientists who have kept us informed, often under difficult conditions.
I don’t know anyone who likes wearing a mask (I sure don’t) but they do it because until the vaccines become more available, this is the best way to prevent the respiratory transmission of a highly contagious disease. Now that we have vaccines to look forward to, the coming year does look brighter in the long run. Wearing masks should never have become a political issue. There is nothing partisan about this nasty virus. It can infect anyone. Also, since new vaccines were developed faster than any other in history, why couldn’t the N95 masks be produced in greater number? Surely that would be an easier challenge.
Those of us who are retired and used to a quiet life may have an easier time of it than bubbly extroverts who always want to be out seeing people and doing things. It’s also harder for those who live alone. Very few people want to be actual hermits. The feeling of being hemmed in all the time and prevented from doing sociable things can cause a sort of psychological claustrophobia. We will be feeling the after effects of 2020 for a while.
The highlight of the past year for me has been going for long weekend walks, either on the beach or a nature trail nearby, and getting take-out from one of several local restaurants, bless them in these difficult times. I’ve never been an enthusiastic cook and this past year has tried both my patience and culinary skills, though sometimes I’ve surprised myself.
I’ve adapted to Zoom, though an hour is about the limit of my patience for faces in boxes popping up and down. I did appreciate seeing Christmas services with beautiful music this way. What a challenge that must have been to coordinate! My admiration goes to those who have worked from home too, including my husband and daughter. Sure it’s nice not to commute to work, but there’s that nagging feeling of being under house arrest for something you didn’t do.
Speaking of Zoom, I see where some first graders in Central Falls won a “name the new police dog” contest there. The winning name: Zoom, of course. Clever kids! And speaking of kids, a four-year-old I know asked her parents “When I’m a grownup, will I be working from home?” Now that’s an interesting question. Who knows how the workplace will change in the coming months and years?
One of the jokes circulating last summer suggested putting up the Christmas tree in July and just declaring the year over. Good thing we didn’t know in March how long this thing was going to last. Now we can take down the Christmas tree and declare the year over. The name January comes from the Roman god Janus, who was shown with two faces, looking back and looking forward. Though we might want to forget 2020, scientists and historians will be analyzing it for years to come. But for the rest of us, we look forward to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, finally.