2020. What a year. I consistently hear people saying things like, “I can’t wait for 2021,” or, ” Next year we’ll get to the end of this tunnel.” I understand there is a time and place for this expectancy, but sometimes I think we lose sight of where we’re at. To give you a little perspective, I’ll explain below, but I must warn you, it’s not the most thrilling story.
Come back with me to the year 1348 in Florence, Italy:
You are sitting atop a crudely built wooden chair in a rustic second-floor living room. Indigo hues of dusk are slowly replacing the dim light of a setting sun, causing the shadows cast by an ashy fire to dance around the room. Eerie silence. The cries of your neighbor ceased this morning. You know why. As you rise from the chair your trembling hands tense around an empty stomach. The small portion of oats you ate this morning is simply unsustainable. You need more food. As you turn to look past the warped window of your room, you find a shred of comfort in the darkening horizon, which signifies you have lasted yet another day. Many of your family, friends, and neighbors have not. The Black Plague, unknown by that name to you at the time, is in the midst of ravaging Florence and greater Europe. As you rifle through your last supply of nuts and seeds, you close your eyes and simply hope to see the now charcoal horizon lose its fight to the next morning’s amber glow.
Whew, thank you for reading this far. I did not enjoy writing that insomuch as I wanted to prove a point by it. If you’re reading this you probably have a warm bed, a roof over your head, and most of your friends and family accessible at the touch of a finger if not within close proximity. Food is readily available. The world’s governments and advanced scientific communities are working on a sustainable solution to the pandemic as we speak. You have access to a wealth of information and entertainment from your home. Yes, life is more complex, but I’ll be darned if it isn’t more comfortable than it has ever been before.
So whatever fight you are engaged in, whatever battle you think you’re winning or losing this year, continue to fight it and don’t give up, because we have it good, and the odds of us waking up to the next sunrise are substantially higher than many a European in the 14th century.
Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash
4 thoughts on “Fight the good fight”
Heather Sent from my phone
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wow, quite thought provoking
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Hi Jay! Thanks so much for your reflections on this year and the pandemic!
Just a few thoughts in response if I may…
Although I agree entirely with what you say about being fortunate for what we have (food, entertainment, access to loved ones via ‘touch of a finger’ etc.), and for most of us that is the case of course – and we should look with gratitude upon these things.
However, I am also aware of the likely disadvantageous consequences the pandemic has/will have on some citizens (at least here in the UK- can’t speak for elsewhere). For one, my understanding is that unemployment will inevitably go up (and some shops/organisations have already had to let people go) – yes we have the furlough scheme here, but this will not go on ad infinitum, and it seems likely that at the end of this is when unemployment will rise, which unfortunately for some will result in an insecure source of food due to loss of income (and the poor state of the social support here in the UK), meaning a reliance on food banks etc. I’m not saying it’s as bad as the Black Plague of course! But just to say I think it will be hard for some to see past these events and be thankful perhaps…?
Thank you for your encouraging comments at the end and a reminder that yes we do have it better than previous generations dealing with pandemics- amazing how the global community has worked so hard to come up with a vaccine so quickly!
I’d be interested to hear your further thoughts on ‘whatever battle you think you’re winning or losing this year’ – specifically how we can psychologically cope with our losing battles bit, or a way in which we could reframe the losses?
Hope you’re well! Sorry for the word vomit!
Hey Oli! Thanks so much for your reply and great to hear you across the pond (the wonders of our modern age). I hope this season life is treating you and Marie well and that you have gotten to kick your feet up a little bit after such a crazy year.
In response to your question, I do agree that it might be hard for some people to see past their situation and circumstances given the disproportionate and in many cases unfair impact this season has had on all corners of the world. Fostering a perspective toward this impact is what I am trying to speak to. I hope to convey that regardless of your situation, even if you may be unemployed, leaning on governmental assistance, and dealing with substantial loss of income, at least our situation affords you more opportunities than most Europeans in the 16th century. Just trying to shed some light on our current situation (regardless of how dim that light may be).
To touch on your comment about “Whatever battle…”, I believe you outlined it brilliantly when you mentioned food banks, lack of consistent income, and poor social support at least in the UK (and I’m sure other unique circumstances in how respective countries are dealing with the pandemic). In my mind, those are all ‘battles’, if you will, that we are facing. Some more extreme than others of course!
Thanks for the thoughtful response, amigo. One day hopefully we can bridge the ocean between us and chat over a nice ale in a pub or brewery (we have a lot here in the states, and I’d love to take you and Marie out one day).
We just got your family Christmas letter and read it out loud. Love the pictures 🙂
Anyways, Happy New Year and blessings on what is sure to be a hopefully better year!