Ask two questions, instead.
People say “thank god 2020 is over.” It’s just beginning.
2021 will be not better, just because it’s a different number. It will be better because we voted. It will be better if we offset our flights. It will be better if we vaccinate…
People say 2020 sucked.
They’re right, of course.
So many dead. So many living, have lost their loved ones. So many recovered, but never fully.
A democracy, run by a half-baked, dog-whistling tyrant.
A world, on fire, burning for months, with wild hurricanes, so many they ran out of letters—with the half-baked tyrant pulling us in the wrong direction, hard.
A hateful year, so full of invective that we forgot to feel. We forget to mourn. We came together, then tore apart.
And yet. Saying a sucky year sucked is piling on. Saying “good riddance” is arrogant. What if we say “my depression sucks!” What if we say, “that relationship sucked!” We might be right. But that’s piling condemnation on top of pain.
A better framework for relationships, depression, joblessness, wildfires, invective in public discourse, racism: that was painful. What can we learn from it? How can we change?
If we don’t ask these questions, 2021 will be no better. In fact, it’ll be more of the same—and more of the same, if the same is awful, is…worse.
If we were lucky enough to moan about canceled travel, we read more. We baked more. We spent too much time with our loved ones, and not enough—forgetting to appreciate them, or remembering to call them (never have I called, and talked with and listened to my mother so much, since I was a child). And all of it means quality time, that we learned something new about ourselves, about our loneliness that we work so hard to avoid, about one another, about our friendships, and our love, and now—with the New Year, we have another opportunity to salute the passing of time.
2021 will be not better, just because it’s a different number. It will be better because we voted. It will be better if we offset our flights. It will be better if we vaccinate, and allow our restaurants and cafes (those that survived, somehow) to fully reopen. It will be better if we make it better, by making ourselves better—gently, kindly, without self-aggression. Invest in yourself–in your goodness—that we might invest in our home life, our daily life, our community life.
2021 will be hard. It will be our last chance to save our planet, and the animals, from ourselves—lest we walk too far in the direction of climate change, and animal holocaust, we must learn to remember kindness and responsibility.
And we won’t. We won’t. But you might. And you might. And if enough of us do, we might. We can. We really can.