I don’t need to remind anyone what a shit year this has been for most of us. The pandemic has been the obvious and collective villain of the season, but as the Anna Karenina principle contends, our individual miseries are as varied as the people available to suffer them.
Some of the most painful things that people must face at some point in life have all happened in this one year to some of us, one after the other, like an unrelenting, interminable cascade of misfortune. And the pandemic was merely the hell-scape backdrop to the whole nightmare. I know of people who lost both parents in the space of a few months, some to COVID, some not. These same people received scary chronic diagnoses themselves, fretted over and nursed sick kids, got divorced, lost their jobs, lost their pregnancies, witnessed the murders of family members at the hands of law-enforcement…I mean, it feels more like we’re living through an ancient Greek tragedy rather than twenty-first century reality with this avalanche of adversity.
The catastrophes that some have had to endure in just this year amount to the sum of events that would occur over decades or even a full lifetime. There’s been no reprieve, no room to catch our breath or dress our wounds whether individually or collectively. We have clung to the few bright spots in the year as if our lives depended on them, because sometimes they really did. We have shared and bragged about the fleeting celebratory moments seeking to prolong their life-giving energy as long as possible. But, for me anyway, these oases of positivity have done little to staunch the driving tide of anxiety and depression, and we will grieve the losses of this year for a long time, probably the rest of our lives.
Then there’s the hate-filled political and social disturbances this year, not just within this country, but in how the unrest here set the tone globally for heightened mistrust of anything or anyone relegated as Other. The world is tense, the air is thick with fear and uncertainty. Many of us are angry and hurt, feeling betrayed by our government and sometimes even our families and most often our fellow Americans. So now what? What possible recovery do we have? What balm best soothes betrayal?
I don’t know where we go from here, but I do know that it feels like we’re at a crossroads. These are the times when true colors are revealed, foundational characteristics prevail. These are the moments when we decide who we will become. The pressure of adversity either rots or refines. So it’s a scary time because group think is strong in this country.
I guess only time will tell.