Today starts the beginning of scribble-out season, the short, tender transition of writing the wrong dates on things, and crossing them out.
It’s an annual ritual, and somewhat emblematic of our human condition when it comes to change.
Our brain plunges forth into the new year, full of excitement and resolution in fresh beginnings that start at the stroke of midnight.
But the non-brain parts of us require a little more time to adjust — so we straddle the divide between old and new, the year behind and the year ahead.
We wouldn’t be “on trend” if we didn’t lament the trials of 2020, noting the impeachment, cheating in baseball, acquittal, the caucuses and primaries, COVID-19 full stop, the cascade of grim and deepening fractures between people and parties, further cleaved by the killing of George Floyd, protests, anger, cyberattacks, pre-Election tension, post-Election lawsuits and extreme partisanship in everything, including optimism.
Worry begat conspiracy theories on several fronts, including a tendency to chalk up any occurrence to a law-of-attraction style, cosmic force called “2020.”
There’s something to be said for learning the lessons of history — even recent history — lest we repeat it.
But a true history has to account for all factors, including positive ones, like 2020’s extraordinary leaps in space exploration, inclusiveness and voter participation, COVID-19-based silver linings like emptier pet shelters and drops in carbon emissions (and Michigan’s car insurance premiums) to awe-inspiring gains in public health knowledge, from how viruses work to vaccine development.
Ordinary people rolled up their sleeves to help where needed. At the Record-Eagle, we received a slew of tales of local good Samaritans who reached out and helped someone ... like the kitchen and delivery crew at Presbyterian Church of Traverse City that made and delivered more than 4,000 meals for the last eight months; Victor Dinsmoore and Matt Torres from AT&T and Consumers Energy who “help friends across a far ranging landscape beset with challenges;” the staff at Costco that “uplifted spirits” with their joyful efforts; and the “grateful and ready” service of Darlene Ditlow, who donated her hair, cares for the elderly, and does a number of tasks we’ll never know because she seeks no attention for them.
It was a year, that’s for sure. But there’s a reason why we usher in the new year with “Auld lang syne” and a kiss; we should not forget our history, and drink from the cup of kindness yet. We scribble, and cross-out. Type and delete. Err and correct. And enter 2021 with perspective and promise.