2020 Was Not a Year, But a Long Moment

Doors open and doors close.

We are now fully internet people and the internet loves to wrap things up, year end lists are everywhere. Here’s a question: Why would you click on any “2020 Year in Review?” Do you really need any reminding of what we’ve just endured? For the record books? History already shows that we’ve stopped paying enough attention to history. As a species, it doesn’t seem as though we learn from the past, so much as select facts from it that are convenient for our narratives. But since history exists whether or not we refresh our memories or read, let’s acknowledge that as this year ends, at least we can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

2020 has seeped its way into us in a way no other year has. Don’t be a contrarian and claim it’s all happened before. Its unlikely if you’re reading this that you were alive during the Bubonic Plague or even alive in 1918. Ok, if you’re one of the many 102 year-olds who love reading words on the Internet, perhaps you were alive in 1918, but even if you are 105, you were only three years old during that 1918 epidemic and please don’t insist you have vivid memories of it. Many things are unimaginably bad and have happened to humans, but we are the humans alive right now, yes?

Yes, terrifying and very strange diseases and have attacked us humans before this one, but we are the only humans who have the technology to read endlessly about this mostly unknown virus and worry endlessly about what to do. The answer seems to be: stay home if possible and do nothing…but keep getting exercise and keep talking to your friends and family and try very hard not to lose your mind while sustaining your intimate relationships and teach things to your children and love your pets. To complain about staying home and not dying while so many humans are dying is the height of absurdity. But then again to complain is also to be human. Ah, the conundrums of existence!

2020 is ending in a couple of days. It’s a good time to appreciate the fact that everything ends, even Zoom meetings and three year-old tantrums and insane debates…everything eventually ends. We don’t need to re-examine how colossally inept our government has been and we don’t need to rehash the details of January and February just to make ourselves feel slightly more familiar with pre-pandemic life. Those months may as well be lumped in with 2019 or 2018 or 1984. A year is made up of months, which is made of weeks, which is made of days, which is made of minutes, which is made of seconds. These are the names we give to increments of time, but you know what we should be calling 2020? One exceedingly long moment.

The year has been a moment. The world on pause. A life inside. On screens. Reconsidering how to be human. Rethinking what really matters. Some of us have done the sobering work of examining existence anyway. Others have numbed themselves just to survive. And if you’re reading this, you have survived. Congratulations.

I’m tempted to write, “Let’s not waste another day of this precious and precarious thing we call life.” But a profound truth seems to be that life is wasted on the living, and that most of us rarely take advantage of our days. Connect with someone. Imagine a future where you can see someone’s nose and mouth and chin…or at least imagine how lucky you are to still be here.

Writing. Poetry. Personal Essays. On the NBA, MLB, media, journalism, culture, teaching and humor.

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