So. Here we are at last. December 31st, the day I’ve been waiting to roll around for the better part of 2020. There are so many words to be said about the passage of this year, yet I wonder if attaching such significance to a date on the calendar is a good thing.
I look back to New Years Eve 2019 as a published a post from the United Airlines departure lounge on my way to Khartoum. I shutter to look back on those words I wrote that night, setting my intentions for the coming year. “…the promise of a new decade in the year 2020 feels like a great step toward restoring some balance to our lives. As a Libra who needs everything to balance, I can’t think of a better year to offer the promise of hope than “2020!”
Wow. What a statement. Who could have ever dreamed what lay ahead. So I dare not speak a word as I peek over the top of the clock toward 2021 with great trepidation. Best we can hope for is possibility that a clean slate on the calendar can bring to begin anew.
I remember the last day of January as I sat under a tattered beach umbrella mounted in an old concrete-filled tire beside the Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia. I was perched on the old tire next to Pauline, one of the women from our Dragoman overland tour group. Though Pauline is from Australia, she is of Chinese descent, and bears the unmistakable Asian characteristics. We were waiting on members from our tour group to return from the falls, when a couple of young local boys approached us and began taunting Pauline, asking her if she had brought the Coronavirus with her from China. That’s when I first sat up and took note at the realization that news had reached this remote village.
Later, I think back to the taste of panic in the back of my throat as I googled “How to make a mask” on Youtube in preparation for my flight to flee Goa, India. Scared, yet determined, I was motivated by the thought of getting sick in a country that still practices hirudotherapy, the use of leeches as medical devices.
Still, in thinking through these milestones, I am reminded that I was able to carve out some really good memories from a year that has otherwise felt so miserable. I saw some incredible places and met some really fun people who have become fast friends. And I am coming out of 2020 with the same number of healthy family members as I entered in. There is much for which to be grateful.
So from my desolate, solitary confinement campsite in the middle of nowhere, I urge you to stay safe, and stay vigilant. As I have said many times throughout this holiday season, I feel like I have been running a marathon for nine months all the way from India, trying to outrun this corkscrew of a virus. I am not about to collapse just short of the finish line, drunk from a COVID cocktail if I can help it!
I hope you will join in my joy with a toast as we flip the calendar page, while also flipping off what has been a year like no other. I wish you the happiest and healthiest of years in 2021….though for me personally, it won’t feel like a “new year” until High Noon on January 20th.
“It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want
That’s why we’re waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change”
~John Mayer, Continuum