Up here in the Green Mountain State, every other state in the Union, and across the world, 2020 has been one for the books. In fact, it’s been the ONLY one like itself IN the books. The ‘perfect storm’ of a worldwide pandemic, terrible racial unrest in our country, and a very contentious upcoming presidential election has knocked this entire year into a hurricane category of its own.
Do you remember the movie “Back to the Future”? Of course, you do. I recently heard of an editorial cartoon showing Doc Brown as he emphatically admonished: “Marty, whatever you do, DON’T stop in 2020!” I thought that was brilliant, and quite good advice.
To get breaks from what I have come to call ‘Covid Cabin Fever,’ my wife and I, several times a week, get out of the house and just travel the back roads of our beautiful state. We have done this in previous years, but have recently had more incentive to since, this year, there has been little else to occupy our time. I know things are opening up a bit now, thankfully, but for several months we really couldn’t even stop for lunch during these trips. How many take out burgers can you eat in your car without feeling cabin-feverish in there too? (Gaining ten pounds in two months has been a cinch for me.)
Something I have come to notice during our travels is that nature doesn’t seem all that affected by this corona mess, the presidential race, or even racial tension. The beautiful rivers here still flow as well as last year. The deer and cattle grazing in the fields are still doing just that. Squirrels scamper up the big trees as our car approaches, and countless wild turkeys still hang around the tilled and planted farmland all across the state.
In general, what I have noticed in all these things is that nature, the natural world, doesn’t seem to need us a lot. We do need it, as do all living things, but it doesn’t really need us. I believe there is a place for us, (and the wild turkeys) here, and that we are free to use the resources of our large, global home. I don’t believe for a moment that we are free to abuse them, or each other.
In so many ways, this strange, almost surreal year of 2020 has taught me some lessons. I have had much more time than usual to think about my family, our state, our country, and our world. Pausing from the usual can be a time to refresh, rethink, and regroup. At least that is what it has meant to me.
The recent racial tension, stemming from the terrible murder of George Floyd, has added to that rethinking, also, at least for me. I agree with active but peaceful protests of injustice. I have never agreed with violence to prove a point, but I do understand the anger. I have a wonderful, 26-year-old black son and a beautiful 23-year-old black daughter. If either of them had been murdered by someone with his knee on their neck (regardless of that person’s race) it might be me destroying the place. There’s so very much to think about.
You probably have your own theories as to why, if you think there IS a why, this year has taken place as it has. As a Christian, my thought is that just perhaps God decided that 2020 would be the year to give some of us something closer to 20-20 ‘vision’ about some of these things.
As always, I invite you to take what you will from my humble column here in this great local paper. This year has been terrible in many ways, but also a jolt that has opened many eyes, including mine. Appreciate the things you have, the beautiful world we live in, and ALL the people around you. You may need them more than they need you, as do I.