2020 Is The Lost Year. Perhaps the best way to reflect on a lost year is to seek some normalcy and post a few of the many unprocessed photographs from the last couple years. This should be part of my Unprocessed Sunday series that I have been meaning to get to.
I was already having a tough 2020. I’ve had so many challenges, from changing friendships, to career struggles, putting food on the table, and the normal melancholy that comes with occasional mid-life crises. Let’s not forget this is also an election year. 2020 was already shaping up to be a year to forget.
Our world changed this week, perhaps permanently. The co-mingled ideas of denial and American-exceptionalism are integral to how we see the world. But the world came to us with something different. The vast and under-detected spread of SARS-COV-2 (the correct name for the virus that can cause COVID-19) proved that we are no better or worse than the world outside our borders.
In fact, the mistakes that Rudy Gobert made probably saved hundreds or thousands of lives in the United States. How is that for paradoxical? The first athlete in the United States to be diagnosed, just 48 hours after he quite visibly touched every microphone, his teammates and their gear (infecting his teammate in the process) woke us the hell up. The NBA (my favorite sport) was shut down indefinitely. A few more weeks of denial would likely have cost hundreds of lives. He is totally embarrassed, has apologized, and is putting his money where his mouth is in helping arena workers and the health industry in France. In his huge life-saving mistake, he somehow is also a bit of a hero.
A lot of people think they will be social distancing for a few weeks. That’s not how pandemics work. The Black Plague peaked from 1347 to 1351 (4 years), and came and went in waves over many centuries. The famous Spanish Flu, which killed my 2nd great grandmother at the age of 29, widely circulated over 2 years. This new coronavirus will be with us for a long time, and the entire way we live, work, and interact will be changed forever.
Introverts like me transitioned a little easier this week. I have been making fun of extroverts struggling through their first couple days of social distance. One actress I follow on Instagram (because of looks only) was telling some story of triumph in Spain where some guy was on a megaphone in an apartment complex, yelling out workout cadence to the residents above. It was completely silly. Extroverts can’t even do a little stretching without somebody by them.
2020 is the lost year for sports. Like many, I am a huge sports fan, and virtually every sport will have a black hole in 2020. Incomplete seasons, truncated upcoming seasons, missing playoffs, the list goes on. In baseball, you remember seasons like 1981 that were interrupted, and 1994 that weren’t completed at all. Football had 1982 and 1987 (the strike and replacement player years). Hockey’s 2004 – 2005 season never happened. 2020 will forever be the season every sport on every continent was totally interrupted. I will never get to see how my alma mater, who was the last undefeated NCAA team in the country, would do in the tournament. Heck, I won’t even know what seed they would have gotten.
The longest bull economy in US history is now gone. Forget what Mnuchin is saying. The recession is already here. Our politicians may not be able to buy their way out of this one.
2020 is the lost year.
I couldn’t help but think about the climate change debate as the coronavirus was changing from that illness over in other continents, to one that has been with us at home for more weeks than we realized or accepted.
Climate change isn’t particularly debatable. It is happening. But I think the approach to this pandemic is instructive. We will eventually act on climate change. We will throw everything we have to dealing with it. But we will also act only when it is so obvious, that it is affecting human lives in the present in such a way that panic is one step away. I may not be on this Earth when that moment hits. But our children and their children likely will be. We will act, when it’s likely too late to make a functional difference.
Is there hope? Perhaps. The fastest way to progress is to hit rock bottom. I have felt that way in my personal life, and Wednesday night might have been that for the United States. The days ahead are dark and scary. But we will be back.
There isn’t much I can add to this post that is helpful or insightful, except that I know we will learn a lot in the next couple years. We will see a lot of people leave us earlier than they should. We will see some kind of herd immunity and vaccine in 2022. And it is important to not move on with our lives unaffected by this.
So on this post, I want to leave with a little hope, that we will emerge better than we were in 2019. Life will change. Obsessive compulsive hand-washers might not seem so silly. We all might have a couple bottles of hand sanitizer with us at all times. Handshakes may disappear. The way we cough will be different. Our power to stay home when we are feeling less than well will grow. More of us will be permanently working from home as part of our careers. We will be relying even more on dining out by ordering in. introverts will find new ways to recharge and extroverts will find new avenues to socialize in ways that aren’t such close contact.
So as the next few weeks and months get uglier, and our homeland feels more like Northern Italy does now, look to the future. It’s all we can really do. 2020 is the lost year, but I promise, there are better days ahead.
I hope everybody manages a few moments to slow down, reflect, and stay healthy and safe to the fullest extent possible. Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the images.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.