I can’t say that 2020 was a bad year for me, but I’m aware that it was a bad year for many people. Now that we’re a few months into 2021, we can see that things aren’t necessarily the rebirth we hoped for, but maybe we will be able to move forward soon. For my part 2020 was just disappointment. I merely had grander plans and didn’t realize them. For others, the consequences were sometimes illness and even death. It’s real easy to try to step back and believe that moving forward is in some way an affront to those who have suffered. I would suggest that we’re only obligated in this life to not create suffering and to ease as much suffering as is within our power. That begins with the self though.
There is a philosophical angle that I’ve heard for years and I really have no reason to contradict it. The idea is that you can’t truly love others until you love yourself. The idea is that you can’t truly help others until you help yourself. The idea is that you can’t ease the suffering of others until you learn to ease your own suffering. The idea is that you won’t stop inflicting suffering (even the mild blip on the radar kind) on others until you stop inflicting it on yourself.
Here’s what I think happened in 2020. I think we all just threw up our hands and surrendered. I know that once there was this odd question of who was considered to be an essential worker; and therefore, who was more likely to get sick to keep the rest of society safe, and I found myself giving up on what I believed would be my course in 2020 to instead be one of those who was still working. As a deliverer (apparently a real word) I was part of the supply chain. Pizza delivery is easily responsible for millions of pounds of food in the supply chain each year, if not each month, and doing Uber Eats part time also helped to contribute in some small way. I just kind of threw my hands up and surrendered. My grand plans would have to be put off for a little while longer.
The problem is that I think everyone surrendered long before we should have. It seemed like too much work to actually combat the situation. Slowly, I watched as my willingness to risk getting sick became everybody else’s willingness to put me more at risk because I decided to keep working. I stopped feeling like I was contributing to society’s safety, because society didn’t seem to be interested in staying safe. And people did suffer. It may not have affected you personally, but people have suffered.
“Happy Flanker Year 2020” by Falcon_33 is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Maybe it’s 2020 soaring high and free. Maybe it’s 2020 ready to drop some symbolic bombs on our heads.
For me, it’s so far been ok. I truly hope that it stays that way. I believe that I do everything that I reasonably can to stay healthy and to protect the other people I come in contact with. The only way that I’ve suffered as of yet is that I didn’t accomplish anything substantial for me in 2020.
With everything I just said about doing everything I reasonably can not to get sick or get others sick, I think that the rest of 2021 will need to be reclamation of what I wanted to pursue in 2020. I don’t believe myself entitled. If it becomes clear that I should sacrifice a little longer, then I will but we don’t really have “essential workers” anymore this far along. Everyone went back to work. I worked at the start of the pandemic more than I really needed to, and I saved a lot of money along the way. It feels like it’s time to work only what I need to, and save my time instead.
Once I stepped away from working overtime hours every single week of my life, I found myself more creative, which usually leads to more overall happiness for me. The simple fact is that 2020 may have won the battle, but it doesn’t mean that it must win the war. We have an opportunity as individuals, and as a society, to stop taking the path of least resistance. We have the opportunity to live the best lives we can. And if we haven’t been living our best lives already, why not start now?
Chris McGinty is a blogger, and according to Arnold Schwarzenegger, a hero. Did you notice that last year? When Arnold said essential workers were heroes, it kind of felt sweet. When the corporations started making it part of their advertising, I started hearing it with suspicion. Why do corporations gotta ruin everything?