Well, That Was 2021

Remember looking forward to 2021?

Remember nearing the end of 2020, that terrible year, that pandemic? Boy, were we looking forward to all that mess being over! We were saying “Yay, a new year! 2021, new beginnings!” 


Yeah, right.

The virus. It’s still here, and actually worse in a way. They say it’s easier to catch than last year’s version, and although it’s weaker it’s still potent enough to be crowding the hospitals again. It’s hard not to give in to the feeling of futility, isn’t it? I still have hope, though, that we will prevail. I believed at the outset that if we worked together we would make it go away. 1

That may still turn out to be so in 2022, but it sure didn’t happen in 2021. If the elusive “herd immunity” is to be reached it will be by the combination of those who got the shot and those who refused but will contribute the hard way, by getting sick and recovering. The pandemic will soon turn endemic, something we live with like colds and the flu. Like with colds and the flu, we will be less likely to catch it if we wash our hands and keep them off our faces, cover our sneezes, and (close your eyes to read this if you can’t stand the thought) wear a mask in crowded places. Another thing contributes to my feeling of hopefulness, though:

I see good people.

I see them everywhere. I have a family of good people. I live in a neighborhood of good people. I work with good people. Some of the good people I know don’t believe the same things I do, about all kinds of topics including that pandemic. They’re still good people.

Good people. They’re everywhere.

The best thing about being human
Is not the great things we can do
We might think we’re pretty terrific
But living alone makes us blue.

It’s living and working together
That makes a community work
With kindness and love for each other
(Except the occasional jerk.)

It’s not just the way we pursue things
In search of success and for gold
Or wanting more money than others,
An empty pursuit so I’m told.

It’s caring and kindness that does it
Together we will make it through
With generous care and good laughter
And loving is part of it too.

Wherever we look there is goodness
As long as we’re open to see
The good that often lies hidden
In people just like you and me.


 

2020

What a year, right? I hear friends wishing for it to end, as if the New Year will flip a magic switch and 2021 will bring an end to “this terrible year.” We might not want to admit it in the days before that “Happy New Year,” but getting over 2020 will be gradual and forever incomplete. Those who have died will long be mourned. Many businesses won’t come back and many jobs are lost forever. We will never return to many of our old easy habits. Coping mechanisms have emerged that will cast long shadows, some dark. There will be post-traumatic stress effects. Office space, work hours, transportation patterns, conferences and conventions, birthday parties: all will return in distorted form. 2020 gets the blame.

But who knows, if not for 2020…

What Good Might Not Have Started

Who knows what good might not have started
If we had all stayed the same way,
Enmeshed in routines done dull-hearted
Just trudging half blind through each day.

This year that has seemed so accursed
Has brought us a new point of view
Would we never or ever have noticed
The people we praise now anew?

The nurses, the doctors and teachers,
The drivers, and grocers and clerks,
The helpers and healers who stepped up
To make sure that everything works.

And food banks that came into being
Where never before angels went
With generous souls freely serving
To people who stretched to make rent.

Admiringly we call them “the front line”
The people that we never knew
But angels appear when you need them
And COVID has brought them in view.

I wonder if we would have squandered
Our hours and minutes away
Unfeeling and mute as we wandered
Complacent in each passing day.

The crisis has made us refocus
On things that are precious and dear
Like casual hugs and cheek-kisses
And missing them made some things clear,

Like valuing love and each other,
Giving service to others in need,
And loving the ones we hold closely,
Being thankful in thought, word, and deed.

2019

California fires raged
With thousands dispossessed.
Heroic firefighters gave
Their all to save the rest.

Notre Dame Cathedral burned
The spire flared and fell
Smoke and flames made heaven cry
But made them smile in hell.

737 Max
An aviation wonder
Until it twice dove to the ground
346 are under.

As shots rang out in churches,
People shrieked in pain.
In synagogues and mosques alike,
The anguish was the same.

At Walmart in El Paso,
Twenty-two are dead.
Then a dreary bar in Dayton,
Again the news we dread.

Mueller turned his homework in
But left indictments open.
No collusion proven here!
Just like old Trump was hopin’.

And then the Congress held debates
All cynical and jaded.
“He’s impeached!” the Speaker said
And then she sat and waited.

Nothing changes, nothing’s good
If news is all you’re knowing
And all the while the world goes by
With goodness overflowing.

So here’s a toast to old 19,
It put us to the test.
And here’s a hope for 20-new
That we will see the best.