Maybe. I mean, it could be worse, couldn’t it? God, I hope not. But we humans are always looking over the fence toward some better grass. My son illustrates this principle well in this little gem from ’17. Gabe didn’t want to get off the couch, walk across the living room, and get something. He figured if he were in public school, he wouldn’t have to.
Gabe, now a sophomore, got his greener-grass and just finished the semester with straight A’s. He wakes at five something, even on Christmas break to go to the pool or to the weight room. Either way, walking across the living room no longer bothers him. In light of 2020 and the fact that in some states you can’t swim (or play any sports), eat at restaurants, or walk in the great outdoors unmasked, he’s grateful to wake at 5AM and do anything.
Hasn’t 2020 given us new eyes? And since we’re asphyxiated most of the time by cotton masks, breathing our own carbon dioxide, our eyesight has compensated by becoming keener. Unless, like me, you wear glasses. Then you’re also blinded by the steam from your exhalations. Just pinch the mask tighter, says my doctor. I did. I still have steamed up glasses. But, I can see with the 20/20 of 2020 all the things I once took for granted.
I feel like Elf, but my biggest miss is hugging. Hugging’s my favorite.
I don’t recognize the world. I tell myself that’s okay because the wise men were in a strange land, too. They left everything familiar behind and went on an arduous journey. History calls them wise men, but their contemporaries called them fools. Still, they were exactly where they were supposed to be. Not comfortable. Not safe.
Journey of the Magi
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
by T.S. Elliot