Now that 2021’s behind us, what will we make of the year ahead? New Year has generally been a time of reflection. I don’t put a lot of stock into it because years are just random markers pointing out when we’ve been around the sun once again. They’re good for organizing things, but does a year have any particular significance? Many people talk as if 2020 and 2021 were cursed. I tend to think of the Black Death and the influenza of a century ago and realize that if you’re reading this, we made it through. Not personally perhaps, but our ancestors did. The Covid-19 pandemic wrenched us unwillingly from our comfort zones, but isn’t that part of life? Were things good before? Was it kind or humane to have Trump in the White House? Was (is) the death-grip of capitalism on the western world cause for celebration?
Yes, we had to travel less. Our ancestors—for some of us that may be as recent as our grandparents—would likely have considered our travel excessive. Why do we always want to be somewhere that we’re not? What makes a home a home? What can we do, moving forward, to make that more appealing? The past two years have changed a number of things, some decidedly for the worse, but some for the better. I keep reminding myself that our outlook is terribly short. The planet has hosted life for billions of years. Some plants live for millennia. We see only our lifetimes and use them to decide what’s normal. I’m never quite sure what normal is.
I do know that it’s considered a new year now, for those who celebrate the new start on January 1. Other cultures have other dates to mark this time. We call it 2022 based on likely incorrect information about when Jesus of Nazareth was born. Our Muslim friends mark the years via Muhammad. Others find yet other markers important to their cultures. Is any of this normal? It is normal to be so terribly polarized as a nation, with supporters of one candidate hating those who support another? Is it normal to complain because we’re surviving through a pandemic, because our conveniences have changed? I suppose it’s normal to want things back the way they were. Some of us are ambivalent about this whole internet thing. There was value in knowing how to fold a paper map. There will, however, be value in the time allotted before us. 2022 may be just a number, but as we reflect perhaps we should think of how to improve where we find ourselves.