Thursday, December 31, 2020

Insight: Reflections on a year like no other

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

If you think that 2020 was a total waste of a year, you are probably not alone. Millions worldwide share your sentiment but there are quite a few reasons to reject that notion too.

I’m certainly fortunate to have escaped the medical carnage that 2020 brought to so many as a result of the pandemic, yet like everyone else, I learned quite a few things about myself and my family over the past 12 months.

First, I have discovered how determined we all are to make our lives as normal as possible despite overwhelming challenges. I was skeptical when major league baseball returned in 2020 with an abbreviated 60-game regular season schedule and without fans in attendance, but for all the years I’ve watched baseball, I don’t believe I’ve ever observed so many teams having a chance to win a spot in the post-season playoffs. Even my lowly Baltimore Orioles were in the hunt late into the schedule for a wild card playoff game.

Second, I am convinced we are a strong and resolute society willing to adapt to new challenges to overcome obstacles. Prior to last spring, I had never heard of Zoom and I don’t think many would have thought on New Year’s Eve 2019 that it was a company that millions worldwide would depend upon heavily during the pandemic. Everyone from teachers to students to government officials to families holding impromptu reunions use Zoom to conduct remote meetings. Using Zoom is not preferable to in-person meetings, but the opportunity to see and visit with a soon-to-be 2-year-old granddaughter in Connecticut instead of talking to her just by phone is exciting for my wife and our family.

Third, Americans have developed a new-found appreciation for those who for years have worked behind the scenes to make our lives better, our so-called essential workers. I used to think it was unusual when my mother would leave a card with a $10 bill inside as a gift for the mailman every Christmas when I was a child, but I am coming around to her way of thinking after all these years. Our postal carriers were a lifeline and worked tirelessly in 2020 to bring us countless packages we ordered online because we just couldn’t get out to stores thanks to the pandemic. The same holds true for those who work in the fast-food industry, ring up and bag groceries, clean facilities to prevent the spread of the virus, ensure that our children are learning remotely, respond to fires or automobile accidents, defend our national security, or stand ready to assist during a medical crisis and provide care for our loved ones in the hospital or the nursing home. The real heroes of the pandemic have always been visible elements in our lives and deserve long overdue recognition.

Fourth, I’ve learned a lot about myself in 2020. I’ve rediscovered how truly blessed I am to be surrounded by cheerful and loving friends and family. I’m grateful for them boosting my spirits during some rather trying times and making me smile. There’s simply no better gift to give one another than to produce hearty laughter and it’s something each of us, no matter who we are, dearly crave. When I was growing up, my father used to tell me of what life was like when he was a child during the Great Depression and how his large family of five sisters and two brothers depended so much upon each other. They had little money and few luxuries, but they all pitched in to survive and knew they could rely on each other for anything. I am as tired of the pandemic as everyone else is but have found that my friends and family are more than I could have ever expected and I’m lucky to have them in my life.

If living through 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that we all have an inner strength and resolve to go on and move forward with our lives. We are all deeply connected and dependent upon each other and we all share the common bond of life. As we greet 2021 and the pandemic subsides, let us all try and remember the struggles, the shortages, the heartbreak, the inconvenience and the devastation that the pandemic forced upon us. We’re all much better people for having lived through this time and if we just try and remember that fact, 2021 will indeed be a much better year for all of us. <

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