The Pendulum Swings – 2020 becomes 2021…

“And after a glimpse
Over the top
The rest of the world
Becomes a gift shop…”

Gift Shop. The Tragically Hip. I think of this song whenever an old year draws to a close. More specifically, I think of the three little words in the song, THE PENDULUM SWINGS. It is about to swing again. Another year has come to an end.

Some of us didn’t make it to this impending swing. Sadly, some of us here this morning, won’t make it to the swing at the end of this day.

It’s been a barbaric year for the human race. We’ve been forced to watch as a pandemic raced across the surface of this planet while those in charge showed the rest of us just how fallible and inept they can be in the face of a grave situation. We’ve in fact shown how fallible and inept each and every one of can be. In the middle of this catastrophe, we each yearned to forget–just a little–the rules that could save us, we each ignored–just a little–the signs of impending disaster. We have each shown ourselves and each other how hopelessly selfish and undeserving of survival we could be. By not considering every single person we’ve come into contact with to be vulnerable and the next possible victim of this unforgiving virus, we have each–at one time or another–thrown caution to the wind. We traded surety for an ice cream cone, we traded safety for a burger and fries. We traded risking our loved ones’ lives for a lottery ticket or a pack of gum.

I’ve learned a lot this year. Even the most diligent among us is willing to take risks every now and then because they think, ‘It won’t happen to me.‘ But they’re not willing to imagine beyond that scenario, that ‘it won’t happen to the people in my life.

“I’ve been really good. I stayed in. I didn’t go anywhere. I quarantined in place throughout this ordeal. Well, I did go to the store for chips…but man, I craved a salty treat. Yeah, that ice cream in July was necessary…it was frigging hot!”

One moment. One slip up. That’s all it takes. None of us know the meaning of ESSENTIAL. I’ve learned that essential means something I want so much I have to go and get it, come what may. “I’ll wear a mask, I’ll wash my hands, it’ll be fine.” I wonder how many of the 341,000+ Americans who died thought that as they ran out to do whatever it is they ‘had’ to do? Or the 15,400+ Canadians? OR, how many of those numbers actually didn’t go out, but had a loved one who did?

This year is a total mess. It’s shown us that we no longer know how to care for/about each other. Disheartening to say the least. How many of us are going to slip just a little bit further into the pandemic fatigue everyone’s talking about? How badly do you need that lottery ticket, those new pants, that thingamajig?

All of the things will be here after the pandemic is over, when we get to begin anew in our new normal. Will you be here to enjoy them? Will your loved ones be here to do that one thing that’s been missing and absent in this year of begrudging and selfishness? Will you get to hug them again? Will you (and I) learn that hunkering down more firmly and waiting this thing out will ensure our survival and the survival of those around us? Will we be here long enough to get the vaccine?

The Pendulum Swings…

By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.

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