There has never been a year in my nearly six decades on this earth quite like 2020. There have been bad years indeed, but 2020 brought the entire world into a gripping tale whose pages are still being written. How will the pandemic play out? Who will be the winners? Who will be the losers? Who will be the heroes (although hospital workers, including the maintenance crew that empties the contagious waste from ICU cells, top the list, along with essential workers of every kind and the scientists formulating the new vaccines)? And who will be the villains (which is pretty obviously that hideous dictator and his mob, which includes every sycophant who helped put him into office or kissed his boots while there)?
All obvious drawbacks aside, there are some wonderful things 2020 wrought. On a personal level, being able to once again work mostly from home has been a godsend for me. Same for my husband, who no longer has to deal with the daily stress of driving an hour’s worth of heavy traffic each way just to travel 18 miles.
Unlike many other workers who found themselves struggling to adapt to working from home for the first time ever, I have many, many years of freelance work under my belt and the self-discipline and strong work ethic to go with it. I almost look forward to sitting at my desk at a scheduled time each day, powering up my computer, and working away for hours on end. (I realize I am fortunate to no longer have young children at home who need my time and attention while I work. I do remember those days well, and I respect that 2020’s parents have the added obstacle of being their child’s schoolwork facilitator in addition to tending to their own work.)
There is a slower pace to life now. The rat race is still there, I’m sure, but I think people finally realize the cheese is always going to be there, so what’s the hurry?
Another huge blessing of 2020 was the free time I now have to take a daily walk and–added bonus–to walk with a book or a podcast to entertain and educate me. I have consumed more books this year than I have in decades past because of that 30 minutes or more of bliss. Today, with Tom Hanks in my ear reading Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House, I was able to cover more territory than usual because I wanted to keep listening to the Conroys’ story).
A third plus has been staying in contact with friends. It’s times like these when we realize who our true friends are. The one friend I see makes an effort to meet for an occasional socially distanced walk or a half hour talking on her front patio. Another friend, whom I’ve actually become closer to through all this, calls every few weeks to see how we all are doing and keeps me up to speed with her and her family’s life. And I and my best friend have had regular, almost weekly phone chats to stay in touch. I miss visiting her and will never again let a year pass without seeing her.
What I miss could fill many blog posts (our annual weeklong vacation, being able to fly, gathering with family and friends on holidays, seeing my daughter and son-in-law get married in front of a roomful of well-wishers), but that’s for another time. I’m just happy that there are silver linings in that godawful year and, more importantly, there is something to look forward to, with a new administration and hope for not just going back to normal but for a new normal of equality, compassion, and change.