And just like that, 2021 and all the baggage that came with it is behind us. Funny, I said the same thing about 2020. We may be entering a new year, but why do I get the sinking feeling there will be some carry over baggage tagging along for the ride as the calendar changes. And this extra baggage is going to come with a huge price tag.
I don’t want to be a pessimist, especially on New Year’s Eve. A time for new beginnings and fresh starts and yadda yadda yadda; we have heard this so many times before. The new beginnings we are facing today actually began in March 2020 when the pandemic struck full force and none of us were certain what the future would bring, or even if there would be a future.
But we fought on. We’re America Strong. We persevered. We did what we could to stay safe in the face of grave danger, whether we believed the virus was an act of nature or an unfortunate laboratory accident. It didn’t matter. The pandemic was a hurdle we had to vault over to make it to the next phase of getting back to normal living. And we almost made it. Almost.
Masks supposedly helped stop the spread of Covid, even if we had to wear them longer than the 2 weeks we were promised back in 2020. Sure, some people resisted. No one likes to be told what to do. Our country was founded on personal freedom, so I get it. Vaccines emerged to slow the spread of the virus, offering even more protection than a mask. And when people were told they had to continue to wear a mask even after they were vaccinated, people resisted again. Pandemic fatigue set in. People are sick of restrictions, and limitations, and class warfare between the vaccinated and the uncouth un-vaxxed. Personal liberties are on the chopping block. Meanwhile, 800,000 people are dead. But that’s not enough to make 40% of the population take a shot of medicine that will greatly reduce the effect of the virus if you are unlucky enough to catch it (or it catches you seems more like it). I heard Sarah Palin on the news last week saying she would get vaccinated “over my dead body.” She has a way with words. Let’s hope she doesn’t get her wish.
The “new normal” no one wanted is here. It can’t even be called the “new” normal any longer. It’s our regular normal. Masks are not going anywhere. Mandates are not going to end. Vaccines are here to stay. Crowds are always going to be scary. Holidays are forever going to be scaled down events. Social distance isn’t even noticeable anymore. We distance by default, whether we are sitting between plexiglass partitions at the local coffee shop or standing behind a plastic shield while buying a lottery ticket in the corner store.
A routine visit to the doctor’s office now comes with even more forms to fill out as if it wasn’t complicated enough before the pandemic. A trip to a local bank is becoming more like a quest for an uncharted island. Good luck finding a branch near you. If banks become a thing of the past, can a cashless society be next? How can anyone enjoy a vacation to a faraway destination if you need a self-defense class and a negative Covid test before you board an airplane? Dream vacations are now just dreams.
Add global warming to the mix and the apocalypse is lurking right around the corner. And we don’t even know we are plummeting towards it because we’re watching TikTok videos in the backseat of our self-driving cars while robots are vacuuming our carpets and billionaires are blasting off into outer space. Do they know something we don’t? Or do we already know as well and we are just too blind to see. The future is here, my friends. And I don’t like it one bit.
And by the way, Happy New Year! What could possibly go wrong?