View From the Editor’s Desk – Enter 2022
“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” -T.S. Eliot
It’s a new year with 2022 holding all our hopes and dreams for a better twelve months ahead than what we lived through in the rearview mirror.
On New Year’s Eve my husband and I stayed in and watched movies by the glow of the Christmas tree while talking with friends and family through social media. As the ball dropped at midnight, I was watching “All the President’s Men” while the neighbors’ fireworks entertained in the post-midnight sky by shooting colorful bursts of celebration to welcome the new year.
On New Year’s Day I watched it rain outside the window and reflected on 2022. The author T.S. Eliot once wrote, “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.” I’m going after that with gusto.
There has been writer burnout across the board the past year in a way I’ve not seen before, something I did not escape either. Even a love of what you do can take a hit during extraordinary times and, after two years navigating the emotional stress and anxiety of the global pandemic, we are all tired.
Time normally spent reading, researching, and writing may be needed in other ways by young families whose children could be adapting to school adjustments, or parents may have difficulty with childcare arrangements. Financial stress is real and may take precedent over volunteer writing as opposed to those with an incentive in the form of a paycheck.
Some could be experiencing loneliness, or recuperating from Covid long-haul health issues, or grieving the loss of a loved one. Sometimes we just want to linger a bit longer with a child, a friend, a sibling, a spouse, in realization of how fragile our “normalcy” is when faced with historic changes. And sometimes I just get sick of politics and have no inclination to write anything; others may feel the same. The bottom line is we have no idea what people are experiencing during these unprecedented days so it’s a time for patience and kindness.
Farewell to those we left behind
While 2021 wasn’t the best year, it certainly wasn’t the worst, although to end the year hearing of the passing on New Year’s Eve of 99-year-old actress Betty White, just three weeks short of her 100th birthday, was a sad note.
Meanwhile, in 2020 we lost 350,000 Americans to Covid; this year that number more than doubled to 824,000 deaths. Last year there were 20 million cases of Covid; this year that number more than doubled to 54.7 million. That’s too many illnesses and too many empty chairs at family tables. We need more compliance with masks and distancing and vaccines as we enter Covid Year 3.
Covid-19 vaccine rollout
But 2021 also held tremendous highlights as we began to crawl out of our Covid caves. A Covid-19 vaccine was rolled out at the beginning of the year by infectious disease researchers and scientists and pharmaceutical labs who had worked day and night to develop it in record time, taking only eleven months for a process that normally requires a minimum of five years and often longer. Having 25 years of background research and development already in place laid the foundation for the needed vaccines.
President Joe Biden’s administration worked with states to set up vaccine clinics and provided for the distribution of free life-saving shots that would, hopefully, start us on our return to normalcy. He also held candlelight memorials for Covid victims who had died, a badly needed emotional salve for surviving families and friends.
In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam, a physician, led the charge in a way that prevented more deaths in the Commonwealth even while other governors sued to reject mask mandates and downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic.
As vaccines became available, people clamored for appointments including my family who happily lined up for two-part shots as soon as eligible and follow-up boosters in the fall. In our immediate pod of nine who do the most activities together, we all followed every recommendation and have steadfastly continued to wear masks and avoid unsafe situations.
Family together again
After spending last Thanksgiving away from each other, and Christmas around the firepit in my backyard, this year our family holiday celebrations were pretty much back to normal. Thanksgiving was at my sister’s home, and Christmas at my home with out-of-town family staying with us. That in itself was absolutely worth being vaccinated and boosted. As a result, we have been reunited.
To be extra safe, as the omicron variant began to spike in December, we all found Covid test kits – not an easy task – and, thankfully, all tested negative. The wonder of science and healthcare, and what it has done for the lives of humanity, never ceases to amaze. Christmas 2021 was a special, loving time together.
A continued thank you goes out to our healthcare workers who have been on the front line since the beginning and continue to be there as the omicron variant spreads across the country.
Because of the vaccine, my husband and I were able to take a three-week cross-country road trip in the fall that had been postponed from the summer of 2020, driving to the Rockies and visiting with my sister and brother-in-law while taking in historical sites along the way. It was exhilarating to once again travel although we were extremely careful by using disinfectant wipes and cleaners while overnighting in hotels.
Although I still avoid eating inside restaurants, we have enjoyed seeking locations with outside dining or just do carry-out. But mostly we still eat at home and, while traveling, we carry picnic food with us. While in Kansas during the fall trip, a vivid memory was the adventure of finding a picnic table off the interstate and spreading out our lunch while anchoring down the tablecloth and food items against the never-ending wind. We were surrounded by flat land, stone fenceposts, few trees, and a history of the area that was part of the west. Interestingly, picnic areas usually had lean-to roofs over tables since there were few trees for shade and the sun was unrelenting.
Anyway, the best part of 2021 was the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and boosters.
The worst part of 2021 for me was the January 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. I’ve never felt anything so chilling as watching the riot unfold on live TV after tuning in to watch the certification of the Presidential election. There was a sea of Trump flags and signs – hundreds of them – signaling that the Republican Party that had not accepted Trump’s loss was behind this violent attack.
It was as alarming, if not more so, as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 but this time it was Americans and, even worse, it was Republicans. My party. And even now they continue to stonewall investigations into that awful day. So as we begin 2022 we must get to the bottom of 1/6, an unheard-of ambush on the U.S. Constitution that will not be remembered kindly in the history books.
With the anniversary of that violent day coming up, it’s going to be a tense week in America. I think about the words of the late Rep. John Lewis: “We’re not going back. We’re going forward.”
I hope for 2022 we find more civility, more communication, and more kindness with the two sides working together for the good of the country. Pipe dream? Maybe … but one thing I learned working in politics all these years is that the my-way-or-the-highway attitude doesn’t cut it. We need to listen more and learn to compromise. And most importantly we must realize the opposite team is our opponent, not our enemy.
The bottom line is we’re all Americans. I hope we can remember that.
Here’s wishing you a safe, healthy 2022. Be well….