The Plan that 2020 Laughed At
Like many people, I had my own goals and plans for the year. Optimistic as I was that we finally entered a decade that we could refer to with a name that had I ring to it – the roaring 20s, the psychedelic 60s, the shag carpet 70s (that’s the only thing I remember culturally significant of the 70s), and the grungy 90s bring up solid memories for many of us.
But what about 2000 to 2009 or 2010-2019? Uhm… So, 2020 seemed like a great new starting point and I wrote about this in January. This year felt like it was going to be significant and it hasn’t let me down in that regard.
We’ve gone from possibly entering World War III with Iran, to seeing Australia practically burn to the ground, locusts swarming in Africa, a global pandemic shutting down the world’s economy and killing thousands of people, to currently rioting in American streets.
Well, at least we have the election to look forward to. If Trump wins, expect more riots on the streets and the total collapse of the American experiment. If Biden wins expect angry white people posting mean-spirited memes on Facebook for the next four years. I’m not sure which is worse.
It makes me wonder how I should decorate for the fall and holiday seasons. Should I board up my windows for that plywood arts & crafts look that’s so in fashion? Maybe hang N95 masks on the Christmas tree?
In all seriousness this year has been a major bummer but I’m in shock at how well many of us are handling it.
We seem to adapt to change, even significant changes, quite well. I guess that’s why our species is still here. But there does come a point when you just want to get on with life regardless of the risks.
The clock is ticking, I’m getting older, and there’s never going to be an ideal or safe time to take that leap of faith.
My plan originally for this year was to go back to work for myself and devote more time to the community again. Yes, I was going to pay off all my debt (except student loans which are eternal) and get back to doing what I love. Well…
My hours were cut in half for several weeks so there has been no paying off bills. Devoting all my time to my own business was too risky because too much was unknown about Covid-19 and how it would play out. We still don’t know completely.
My safest bet has been staying put and it was the right choice. Plans have been delayed but not derailed.
Today, I went for a walk downtown. It’s always cleared my head and grounded me. Just seeing those old buildings and knowing that they’ve seen a lot of history that many people managed to get through is reassuring. If you think about it, those old buildings have housed those that experienced the 1918 flu pandemic, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and so much more.
Last fall, I visited the Millikin Homestead for the first time and the guided tour was excellent. I recommend making a visit. I do remember the point in the story of the home’s history in which it housed flu patients during the 1918 pandemic. It became a temporary hospital.
As I ingested the story it just seemed like a fascinating tidbit of Decatur’s history. Little did I know then that we’d be facing a very similar experience ourselves just a few months later.
I was recently shared a picture of many of my family members. It was taken in the late 1930s or early 40s. I’ve spent a lot of time just staring at the photo because I had never seen my great-grandparents, great aunts and uncles and grandparents so young. My grandparents are in their 20s in the photo. The photo is of my great-uncle’s wedding.
What gripped me about the photo is that I know how their lives played out. I know the end to their stories. I just hadn’t been aware of their earlier chapters.
I’d like to say that their stories all ended well but not all of them did. Divorce, sickness, war, and deep loss was part of their life stories. World War II was about to begin. But there were those that weathered it well, like my great-grandmother, who in our family, is still the example we turn to even though she’s be gone for over 30 years. Her legacy lives and why?
She endured. She held the family together. She continued doing the right thing even when everything went wrong. And what was the right thing? Love for her family. The end.
She didn’t live a charmed life by any stretch of the imagination. She lost a young child to an accident and her daughter, the bride’s maid on the left, died of cancer at an early age but she didn’t become bitter or whiney.
I have a tendency to drift towards both until I remember her.
While some people’s lives are hijacked by their circumstances, she didn’t let that happen to her. She didn’t turn to drinking too much, taking her pain out on others, or meddling in other people’s lives. She kept her heart and that was everything.
No, I can’t control everything in my life like a script but I’ve definitely become aware of how I’ve let circumstances that I can change do way too much of the writing lately.
What is there to lose by trying something different? Not much really. What is there to lose by not trying? Myself.
This year has controlled parts of our lives but that doesn’t mean we give up. So, just don’t throw away those plans just yet. They might need to be modified but that’s okay. That’s life.