Friday, December 25, 2020

Looking Backward and Forward

 By next Friday at midnight -- whatever happens between now and then, if the planet is still turning -- 2020 will be in our rear view mirror. We have called this year by many names -- some of them curses that our mothers would not approve of -- even if she is uttering the same curses when no one is listening. 

To say it has been a bad year is an understatement. But it also has been educational. We've learned things we didn't want to know -- like at what point we become numb to the daily death count. Or, think we have, until we lose someone we know and/or love. Or, until the media reminds us with yet another story that makes us understand once more the toll that COVID-19 has taken on individuals. Today, there was a story about a young woman who gave birth to her child and then died. The article was accompanied by a photo of the day when she and her husband celebrated her pregnancy. They are glowing with happiness. And now she is gone, and he has had to break the news to the other children. 

We can imagine one death, one family devastated. That haunts us. We have learned that this year. Learned it over and over again even when we tried not to see or listen. 

But we've also learned that we need to find time to stay connected with the people we care about.  Once upon a time, before email, my best friend from grad school and I used to write each other real letters. With email, oddly enough, the letters became less frequent. Until the past few months, when one email letter has led to another and we are having an on-going conversation about our lives. 

Some of us, those of us with "companion animals," were reminded of how much we value their companionship. I dropped my cat, Harry, off at the vet's last Wednesday evening for a procedure on Thursday morning. The vet and I were anticipating that I would be able to pick him up on Friday morning. Instead, the blizzard blew through depositing 22.5 + inches in our area. I spent the next six nights realizing that even when Harry is napping in a corner somewhere, the house has a different vibration when he is in it. I was as relieved as he was when I could finally pick him up on Tuesday afternoon.

Something else I learned this year -- vanity is a lot of trouble and sometimes unnecessary. For decades, since I was in my 20s, I first plucked out gray strands and then dyed my hair. I could never find a color that felt exactly right, although I did settle on a cool shade that worked with my skin tone. I thought occasionally of saying to heck with it and letting my hair go gray. But I didn't want people to think I had "stopped trying" or that my hair had turned white after a scare (old superstition). I didn't want to look in the mirror and see that I looked ancient. But this fall, while working from home and unable to get to a hair salon, I chopped my hair into a shape that worked on Zoom. Then, although I'd ordered hair color delivered with my groceries, I decided to see how gray my hair actually was. That was when I realized -- as more and more gray appeared -- that I liked the silver. It was great with my favorite shades of gray and blue. The color worked with my skin tone. Still, I was shocked when several people on Zoom said they liked my hair. Who knew?  The only problem now is that I need to update my author photos.

 I've also learned how to order a delicious meal online. I had used Grub Hub before. Now, I know how to "read" an online menu and find what I want. Last night I had a seafood feast -- fried oysters, crab hush puppies, mussel boil, and coleslaw. All this from a restaurant I had just discovered. And I'm doing my part to support local businesses with an order every couple of weeks -- my reward for learning how to do more with veggies and left-overs.  

Although I would rather have made this discovery under happier circumstances, I have finally become a fan of technology. I like what one can do on Zoom. I also like what one can do with a combination of new technology and old. I found an "animal communicator" online. We talked on the telephone, and then she did a session with Harry using a photo that I had sent her. In case you're interested, Harry has never lived with a dog (I wasn't sure), but he knows what they are. He was curious about the puppy (see cute photo) that is likely to join us in the new year. But he is withholding judgment until he encounters him and sees how he behaves. The session was inspired by my research for a book, but it was also fascinating.

I could go on with the list of things I've learned this year -- some good, some bad. You must have your list as well. I've going to see how many of those things -- for example, the need to get outside and get fresh air or at least open windows even in a pandemic -- translate into New Year's resolutions. 

Happy Holidays and Take Care,


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