December 30, 2020 11:00 AM
This week’s Courier Herald column:
The calendar tells us we’re upon a new year. The routine says we’re still stuck in the present. It’s up to each of us, individually, to reconcile the two.
The Great Time Out started in March with “two weeks to flatten the curve”. The calendar tells us that two weeks has become nine months, and we still have time left on that clock.
These are not days and weeks that we will get back. Time marches on, with or without us.
The squabbling over when it is “safe” to reopen will continue, as well as how much money we’re going to print and re-distribute using the pandemic as the reasoning. As this is normally a political column, you might expect the focus to be on these now very political decisions.
We will not. We’ve had about all of the politics that Georgians can take for now.
As individuals, there’s very little we can or will do to change the collective mindset. What will move the discussion is the approval and availability of vaccines – with a couple more expected sometime in January – and an eventual decline in infection rates.
Yes, the goalposts have been moved on us, multiple times. We’ve gone from knowing almost nothing about this virus last March to having a better understanding of a plan to treat it, prevent it, and hopefully, put the word “pandemic” back on the shelf for a long time.
In the interim, we have to decide if our New Year’s traditions are put on hold with so much else. How do we make resolutions when we’re stuck in the present?
We do it with reasonable expectations. We do it with a plan. We do it understanding that some things must remain flexible, but we must move forward.
Too much of 2020 has forced us to be stuck in the present. We must begin the year anew with the central focus that we will, that we must, be moving forward. Time will move on. We must make the conscious decision to move with it.
A best guess now is that we won’t return to normal until sometime between St. Patrick’s Day and Memorial Day. Even that timeframe will require at least one additional vaccine to be approved and a large percentage of us willing to accept it when offered.
That doesn’t mean we have to wait until then to start the new year. It does mean that plans for “normal” activities can start: A real summer vacation? Perhaps a long overdue gathering of friends and relatives?
I for one am looking forward to resuming our family reunion that continued uninterrupted for over seven decades until this year. I want students to be able to attend their proms and graduations. I want to know that our elderly again feel safe being mobile, and have the ability to gather with friends and family without having to decide if it’s worth the risk.
Even before then, we still have some time. January, February, and March can and should be a time of planning and preparation. This could be for anything from neglected household chores to getting back in shape after a long hibernation and hiatus from diets and exercise.
2020 wasn’t the year we had hoped for, nor was it a year we could realistically have planned for. 2021 doesn’t have to be that way.
While nothing is certain, and we all still must live day by day, we must resolve that our direction will no longer be stagnant.
Hopefully, we have learned during our time out that there were too many things, and too many days we have long been taking for granted. We will soon have the opportunity to change that.
This year, we’ll once again be able to move forward. You still have a couple of months to decide on your path, and how to maximize the freedom that will come post-pandemic.
Will you be ready? That determines how you use this time ahead, in the earliest days of this new year.