2020 – My Year-End Reflection

2020 in the rear view mirror is something to be happy about for me and most everyone else it seems. It saw me lose a sister, have our lives upended by the pandemic and of course, the chaos of a contentious Presidential election that doesn’t seem to ever end.

Turning 63 and still a bit of a clown through it all.

So to say that 2020 was a year, that was is an understatement.

While I expect the start of 2021 will be a bumpy ride, there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel we are zooming through (yes, I did that). The COVID-19 vaccines give hope to a different normal than we have experienced since March and the results of the election appear to have given us a change in Presidential leadership. We will see how the peaceful transition of power goes or stalls, either of which will determine the direction of our future as a democratic republic will take.

Whatever happens I am sure that that we will be living in “interesting” times for a while longer. I do tend to believe that there will be more drama and crap before we get back to having a boring, semi-normal government of the people, for the people or at least that is what almost 84 million people voted for.

Oh well, there is nothing I can do to change whatever is going to happen, it will be decided by people more powerful, savvy politically or medically knowledgeable than me. Like everyone else who isn’t interested in chasing power, I will get along the best that I can. While shaking my head at the stupid shit that people will say and do over the next few months.

Hey Harold this is supposed to be a reflection on 2020, not a projection of 2021, so get back on topic.

Okay, okay!

My running will be a separate reflection, otherwise this will become a novella and I don’t feel subject you all to that much pain and suffering all at once. It will be long enough as it is.

Reading

One of the big things I did this year was focus on reading something other than my usual running and Heroic Fantasy genres. I did well on that and read over 80 books over the course of the year. Although I did read my share of running and fantasy books, I did get into the aging, philosophy, science fiction and better living genres too. 

The above books are in no particular order, but they are the ones that I either enjoyed the most or made me think more than I wanted to over the course of the year. If I had to pick one book that I recommend reading it would be “What Unites Us” by Dan Rather. The book gave hope that things can get better in the future and also that things are not as terrible as some would have us believe. 

Also I took to reading a few books about Stoic philosophy, something that I had started a couple of times before, but didn’t really do a lot for me at the time. With the pandemic, political uncertainty, and me getting older, my perspective has changed on many things and Ryan Holiday’s presentation/writing about Stoicism made it less esoteric and more relevant. So far many of the ideas seem like a good fit for the direction I am choosing to take my life and focused me more on parts of my life that I wanted/needed to improve upon. No, I have not completely embraced Stoicism, but it does bring a sense of calmness and equanimity into my life that was missing before.

Tech Use

Back in the Fall, for several reasons I decided to go back to the Apple ecosystem for my computing needs. So far I am very happy with that choice. My iPad Pro is clinging to life with a so-so battery and I am not crazy about the keyboards I have used with it (4 different ones), but at this point don’t see me getting new hardware for a while longer. I will write more on this next year I am sure.

Social media continues to be something that I love to hate. I have worked hard at paring down the people that I follow and attempted to find a wider cross-section of views, so that I get varied opinions versus an echo chamber. But some opinions are too out there for me to even think about keeping them in my feeds. I block quickly and often when people are being stoopid or threatening. I haven’t said a whole lot since February on my social media sites about either the pandemic or politics. It simply serves no purpose to argue with Bots or people who chant slogans versus actual conversations and dealing with trolls gets old very quickly.

Writing

I have worked hard on simplifying my life this year and gotten rid of all but a few of my old blogs and have come back to using this blog as my primary. I still am not sure of the direction that I will take it in the long run. Although I have a couple of ideas about the direction I might take, but until my anxiety levels are lower and my focus better — probably sometime in February 2021, I see blogging being something that will be rather sporadic. 

Hell, I even started working on my book during the summer, something that I have wanted to do for several years. I am only about 20,000 words in, but when my anxiety levels got ramped up due to all the election crap, I didn’t have the focus to let the muses guide me to where the book deserved to go. I will get back to it, but not right now. Yeah, it is a Sword and Sorcery – Hero’s Journey book.

Home Improvements

At the end of July we got a new generator installed and luckily it wasn’t needed until recently. All I can say is, having it that night, until power was restored was soooo nice. As I get older, losing power and dealing with all the stuff that goes on during a longer power outage is a pain in the arse and not something I want to deal with unless I have to. After only one outage, I can say that the whole house generator was worth the money we spent on it – having that peace of mind amidst all the chaos this year has been a good thing. 

One less thing to worry about.

Then we decided that I am getting too old be getting up on the garage roof to shovel or even roof rake it, because of my bad shoulder that keeps getting worse every year. So we went ahead and killed the rest of the budget by putting a metal roof on the garage and replacing the skylight in the bathroom (it was 30 years old).

We thought it was going to be done by September, but the contractor kept putting the project off. They finally finished during the first part of December when that first nasty storm whacked us (the snow slid off the roof nicely) and now it is nice not having to worry about getting up on the roof or playing with a roof rake

Another thing that we don’t have to worry about.

We also worked on cleaning up the woods up over the the Quaker Road extension. We have talked about it for several years and with the pandemic going on and us not being able to do a lot else, it was the perfect time to do it. A bit of extra exercise and also meant that we always had something to do that was constructive to take our minds off being house-bound.

Pandemic

The year started out pretty good, but by mid January I could sense changes coming based on what I was reading online and seeing in the news. We started to get ready a little ahead of the curve and while I got a few funny looks at times, the wife didn’t disagree too much either. Despite the mixed messages being sent out by the Trump Administration about what was going on here and abroad. 

By February we were starting to get in this ain’t gonna be fun for a while mode. We started thinking about things that we would need for a long-haul pandemic and went about getting stuff before the rush started. My background in emergency management, was telling me that things were going to get bad for a while, before they got better.

Yep, in March things went to shit, COVID-19 became a pandemic that came to America’s shores (it was probably here in January) and is still here today sowing chaos, confusion, sickness and death. March 5th was the last day I went to the gym (something that I still miss) and the 10th was when we put ourselves into lock down. Shortly after that Governor Mills put the State of Maine into lock-down due to COVID-19. 

Then the “fun” started and we have lived our lives differently since then. 

We did learn to shop more online and very rarely have gone into stores since. Sam’s Club is the only exception to that rule and we go only during the 7-8 AM senior hours on most Tuesdays. They have done a great job and since June, the numbers have been reasonable enough that we don’t have to stand in line outside waiting for the store to open up. The stock has been good with some things not being there for a week or two, but coming back quicker than I thought they might.

Thursdays usually mean curbside pick-up at Wal Mart and every few weeks a stop at Tractor Supplies’ curbside for critter stuff. Curbside pickup at places like Home Depot also saw a bit of our business.

Amazon Prime has been a good thing as well – getting things that we otherwise would have to go in stores for. Most bills are now paid online and banking the same. Instead of going down to Annie’s for the paper and lottery tickets we have the Sunday paper delivered and read the rest of the week online with our subscription – lottery tickets are not even a concern. I don’t go to the transfer station, we now pay to have the garbage picked up. 

However, the one thing we have not compromised very much on is minimizing our exposure to other people. Yes, it does suck at times and we have missed out on the social side of life for the most part. Then again, we were not that socially active in the first place, so it didn’t really change our social life all that much. Going to movies, shows, or going out to eat very often, was something we rarely did before the pandemic. Doing those kinds of things are not high priorities for us. Although a night out on the Town at Slates Restaurant will happen once this is over — if they survive.

Life has changed during the pandemic and for many things I have a feeling that they will not go back to how it was before this all started. Many of the changes have become a part of our new normal. All of that would change even more if the Internet is ever disabled or compromised. The thing that we have worked hard at — is being flexible and doing the best we can within the circumstances we are given.

From where I sit the mixed messages on what we needed and still need to do to stay safe during the pandemic became overly politicized versus being based on facts or best practices from the start by this administration. The conservative statistics on the toll the pandemic has taken on both the economic and health of America is staggering with deaths in the hundreds of thousands and while there are now vaccines, many thousands more will die before the pandemic is contained.

I believe there will be damning evidence of the choices made regarding the Trump administration’s responses to the pandemic will come to light over the next few months. No amount of rhetoric, rewriting history or a post-truth world will absolve them of their lack of leadership during this pandemic. History will not judge them kindly I have a feeling.

Enough on the pandemic, it will be over when it is over and we will continue to bumble our way through, and then go about living in the new normal whatever that will be. Unfortunately, there will be several hundred thousand fewer people who will never enjoy whatever that new normal might be.

Politics

This song from the ‘60s pretty much sums up my thoughts on politics this year.

For me the Presidential election is the never ending story that will not be finished soon enough.

There are too many more twists and turns still left to be negotiated as we bumble along towards an eventual resolution. Which most likely will find Biden taking the Oath of Office on January 20, 2021, unless Trump stages a political coup.

Yes, the election was contentious, nasty and divisive. Even though Trump came up with 75 million votes, when your opponent gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 83-84 million, a record number of votes and 306 electoral college votes that were certified by the states, it means that you lose.

To continue to claim election fraud and not be able to provide proof to overturn any votes in any Court of Law (at least 60 failed lawsuits so far) has been remarkable and damning to that claim. Exhaustive rhetoric and chest thumping, is not the proof that Courts use to overturn an election.

These case decisions have been made by many conservative Republican judges (including many appointed by Trump) and the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority (with 3 Trump appointees) has ruled against his claims. Republican governors and Secretary of States, who would have loved to have seen Trump won/win have certified their State’s voting results based on the facts presented to them, not incredulous claims. Even Bill Barr, Trump’s handpicked Attorney General publicly disagreed with the President on the election fraud claims.

When you add in the fact that down-ballot Republicans did quite well in many places that Trump lost. It makes his claims of voter fraud very weak indeed and only weakens our democracy with his continued attempts to delegitimize the election results with his attempts to retain power.

The reality is that President Trump lost the Presidential election not because of voter fraud, but as a result of his actions while in office, lack of leadership during the pandemic…and because more Americans voted for President-elect Biden than those that voted for him.

Although I am not a big fan of President-elect Biden and things I see on the Democrat’s agenda, but perhaps he is what the Country needs now, after four years of Presidential chaos and lack of respect for the office being held. Biden is not bombastic, rather boring, but has played the political game for a while now and doesn’t have an ego that constantly needs to be stroked or focused on great ratings.

We will see where all this political turmoil leads. Hopefully, the peaceful transition of power will happen on January 20, 2021, as it has each time we have elected a new President in the past. Though I don’t see the rhetoric lessening anytime soon.

What Have I Learned In 2020?

A lot.

For me and most everyone else, 2020 was not the year I wanted or expected. But it is the year that I managed to endure and survive. We quickly figured out back in March that we could not live life the same way as we always had, in the middle of a pandemic. Sometimes it is how we adapt to the curveballs that life throws at us that is more important than wanting things to be how they were before.

I have learned that most people are good, want to live their lives as best they can, expect their government to be there in times of crisis, provide guidance based on science and even show some common sense (I know it is in short supply) when it comes to battling a world-wide pandemic.

That our Country’s democracy is a more fragile thing than I believed. It depends on the voters, being informed and listening to what candidates actually are saying and then what they do, before voting for someone. Whether that is in the Presidential election or down at the local level.

That our Courts and Judges have upheld the Constitution and our laws after this contentious election cycle, in spite/despite tremendous pressure to accede to a President who does not want to accept that he lost the election. More than a little disappointment in our Congresscritters who continue to devalue the certified state election results and play into the drama that President Trump’s so-far unverified claims of election fraud. It will be damning to see what is planned for January 6th, other than more theatrics.

It is time to accept that President Trump lost the election and move on to the next chapter. President-elect Biden should be taking the oath of office on January 20, 2021 at noon. No, it is not what almost 75 million people in this Country wanted, but is what almost 84 million voted for and 306 certified electoral votes will be counted.

No, I am not naive and I do stay informed on what is happening around me and at the national levels also. However, as the Stoics do say, “control what you can control”. I have zero control over how others think or feel and found out that many perceive things very differently than I do on a multitude of issues. So I don’t attempt to say or do too much beyond this little post and waste my time attempting to convince others of my point of view.

If you can’t tell, I (like most of us) am dealing with pandemic and election fatigue and frustration. I can fairly safely say, we are tired of their impacts upon our lives and want nothing more than to get back to living something closer to the way life used to be — before the pandemic or at least get to the new normal.

However, as tired as I am, I know that most likely we still have at least another 6-8 months of doing things differently due to the increased COVID-19 numbers from the holidays and the pandemic continuing to grip our nation, while we wait for one of the vaccines to be available to the general public. And yes, the fallout and residue from the Presidential election and the chaos it has brought and still brings to our daily lives.

All I do know is that I want the pandemic and the political nonsense to be over. That way we can pick up the pieces of our lives to start living in whatever the new normal will be. Maybe even healing some of the worst of the divisiveness of the past decade.

I can dream can’t I?

However, the big thing is to keep living the best life that we can and do a little better each day for ourselves and the people around us for the time we have left on this little blue marble.

Earthrise, taken on December 24, 1968, by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders. A sign of hope and how small our planet is.

I have no words of wisdom beyond what I have already said about last year and with 2020 hindsight, there are few things that I would change, but none of those things are within my ability to control.

Here is to a better 2021.

2 thoughts on “2020 – My Year-End Reflection

  1. My heart goes out to those who have either lost loved ones due to the coronavirus, or who are ill due to the coronavirus. I also deeply appreciate all the medical frontline staff (angels) who are exhausted but doing their best every day to save lives. For the rest of the people on earth, tired as we may be, we can only hang in there, do what we can control, which is to try and take care of ourselves and those around us and to live life a little better every day until we get to the new normal, whatever it means and whenever it shall be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doing the best we can for ourselves and each other needs to be a higher priority. Putting aside the politics of hate and division also needs to go away, but won’t anytime soon — unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

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