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A Year Like No Other

“Man, like a bridge, was designed to carry the load of the moment , not the combined weight of a year all at once.” – William A. Ward

I’m not going to run a postscript on what happened over the last year – plenty of people have already written about that. A year ago we were quietly celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in an empty bar owned by a friend bearing what we optimistically thought would be a temporary shutdown to flatten that curve. That friend has managed to stay in business despite the severe restrictions on their business, open a second location in the middle of a pandemic, and is in the middle of a second battle front with cancer. Who am I to complain about working from home for a year?

Some of us have lost much more than others, but we’ve all lost something. Loved ones and graduations, sports seasons and jobs, trips of a lifetime and gathering with friends in busy places. We all have that Rolodex of losses we can pull out to share with the world. The profound losses mix with the simple. But something has to balance the losses out. The world doesn’t just tilt on its side without counterbalancing with something else. If we’re all walking that line between order and chaos, what have we gained?

We know instinctively what has balanced the losses, if not completely at least enough to stay afloat. More time with immediate family, perhaps a little too much now and then but time we’ll reflect on fondly. More creative use of technology to find a smile in the darkness. More alive time with gardening and cooking and reading the books you were meaning to get to… and more time alone to think. Deep reflection on what is really important.

There are heroes among us that did so much more than the average. We celebrate the essential workers who kept this thing going, but we should also give ourselves a small pat on the back. We may not be medical staff or law enforcement or supply chain workers, but we’re all collectively doing our part to bridge the madness of the last year, one day at a time.

Of course, this bridge is still being built, still extending to some place in the future where it might set in the firmness of normal. And some are restless – we watch some tentatively gain footing on what they believe to be firm ground, celebrating together and shouting for the rest of us to join the party. But some of them are dancing in quicksand.

No, we’re closer now, but like the soldiers in the last months of World War II, we know this isn’t the time to let up our guard. Don’t go frivolously burning that mask just yet folks, we’ve still got today to face, and tomorrow too. We’ve carried on this far, just hold on a bit longer. Almost there.

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