It’s been a year unlike any that I’ve ever experienced. There have been so many ups and downs, frustrations, anger, sadness, regret, joy, and a sense of renewal. It’s hard to put it all into words, or to even know where to begin.
For years prior to this year, I stopped watching the news. I don’t follow Twitter on a regular basis, nor any news outlet for that matter. It has to be something really big for me to know about it, something that gets other people talking. Then I’ll look into it. So… for me this year started out with me being locationally separated from my family because of work. I went back home in January to ordain my son as a deacon in our church and came back to Washington. In February my wife came up for a valentine’s day weekend, and during that time we were just trying to plan out a big family vacation to Alaska. So, in mid-March when everything imploded and started shutting down, and time seemed to slow considerably, I was left trying to figure out what the heck was going on. How had I missed all of this? How had I not known what was coming? How had I been taken by such surprise? I remember talking to my mom on about March 17th — little did I know — it would be the last time I’d speak to her.
On March 25th, I was having my usual evening call with my wife and boys, when all of a sudden my wife hung up. She called back a little later and told me my Mom and had passed away. I was in total disbelief. What? How could this be? I just spoke to her last week, didn’t I? My wife and I had been talking about everything, trying to understand what all was going on. The swiftness and slowness of how everything was going — shelter in place orders coming down from state Governors. Trying to figure out if other states would follow suit. And then — BOOM — my mom is gone. The world was going crazy — it was difficult at best trying to make sense of everything.
There was the reality that my Mom would not have the kind of funeral she deserved. This was before Zoom calls had become vogue and live streams were something being done for these types of things. Months later the frustration and anger set in when it seemed the rules didn’t apply equally to all. Former President Obama gave a eulogy in front of hundreds, and it doesn’t matter if they had masks on or not; at the time there were still many states that were limiting the size of funerals to ten or twenty people unless you were someone famous — then those rules didn’t apply. I think that was one of the things I saw that I then realized, that yes, the virus is real, but the threat is obviously a little overblown. The masks, the social distancing, the shelter in place — it was and is a form of control, and we eat it up — eager to do our part to stop the spread of the virus.
Just when the virus and all the lock-downs and things were starting to have less effect, and people started to protest about losing jobs, businesses having to close and operate at less than their full potential; boom we have rioting in the streets over a convicted felon who was unnecessarily killed by overzealous police in Minneapolis. This occupied a majority of our summer; once again fear reigned supreme. There was the autonomous zone set up in Seattle, a place where police were not welcomed, actually thrown out, a place where love and harmony were supposed to rule. A place to show the world we didn’t need police — until there were at least two murders that took place and allegations of serval sexual assaults and the person with the biggest gun then called the shots — just like in any other area of the world where law and order are an afterthought. After several weeks, the police finally mustered the courage to do their job and they shut down the police free zone and sent people home. Oh, yeah, this was only after the people had started expanding the zone in the direction of the Mayor of Seattle’s house — now it was a problem, and it needed to end — funny how that works.
This was the external crap that was happening during the past year — I say external because it was the stuff I had very little control over. I couldn’t control when the lock-downs would end. I couldn’t control the people rioting in the streets. The only thing I had control over was my reactions, how I dealt with them. My job and the company I work for were considered essential and so we’ve been working a regular schedule through all of this. Wearing masks when mandated and when onsite at other companies, and through it all we’ve only had one confirmed case of COVID-19, and shockingly he recovered just fine, and there have been no other confirmed cases in the office.
With all of this though, I have had the opportunity to reflect, a chance to strengthen my relationship with my sons. I re-fell-in-love with my wife of nearly 26 years. We talk and exchange ideas. We balance each other. When she is having a rough day or week, I am able to help her work through it, and when I’m having a rough day or week, she is able to help me work through it. I am able to come home and talk with my sons, and through trial and error came to realize that video games were one of my ways to connect with them. Everyone talks about a new skill they have learned during 2020 and what they came out of quarantine with, and for a long time, I had nothing. The last few months of the year I learned how to live stream on Twitch, and that has been the most freeing thing I have done in a long, long time. I don’t need a lot of friends in my life. A vast majority of my social needs are usually met at work. However, this job has been different and those needs are not fulfilled most of the time. It isn’t ideal, but it is what it is — COVID-19 has changed much of the company dynamic. Thursday lunches are a thing of the past. We’re just in survival mode most of the time, and again it is taxing on the soul. We don’t laugh much, we don’t joke much — we’re just trying to keep the doors open. Orders have been slow. Tasks take longer — social distancing — as much as possible. People just aren’t in that great of a mood — I can’t imagine why. Fear still rules the day — at least as much as possible.
Things I have learned from this past year — I don’t like living in other people’s fear of something. I’m not a huge social person (I don’t go to parties of any kind on a regular basis), but how I’m allowed to worship in church is being dictated to me by our state’s governor — I thought that wasn’t supposed to happen (First Amendment — anyone), but heck it wasn’t until September / October time frame that we could even meet in person to attend church here in Washington. So — again, not a fan of living in other’s fear of something, being told what I can and can’t do — basic things — like go to church, go out to eat, travel to visit family. All because I might be carrying a virus that might make someone else sick and that person might get a bad case and might die. So, I don’t go anywhere. I can’t even go out to eat now, because we are back in semi lockdown. Yes, in mid-November Washington closed all restaurants and bars again — well, you can’t go and sit and eat a meal there. You can get take out, and go home and eat.
Because of all of this I find my job is no longer intrinsically rewarding and I find myself trying to figure out other ways to earn money to pay the bills. I find myself wanting time to spend with my family. To one day soon travel the world. I want to be able to make money without being tied to any one location. I find myself looking more earnestly into non-conventional ways of making a living. I’m fifty years old and it is a little scary, but so is not being happy for the next fifteen years, and realizing at the end of those fifteen years I’m too tired or too broke to do what I want — which is see the world. Since we are home schooling, we could incorporate travel with the boys’ school work, what could be a better learning environment than going some place new and learning about that place? I’ve learned that I want to start living life now. I don’t know what exactly that will look like, I just know that I don’t want to wait to start living anymore — that’s what I’ve learned from 2020. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for 2021 being much better, but again, I control how I react to the situations. I refuse to give up completely and let others dictate how I “must” live.
Originally published at http://davesperspective.wordpress.com on January 4, 2021.