It's the end of 2020, or at least close to it. There are still a few hours to go, so, let's not jinx it or anything. Anyway, here on the last day of the year each year it seems, human nature tends to focus on negativity, to the point that as far back as I remember, there's someone (or many people) saying that whatever year it was, was the "worst year ever". In fact, on this day four years ago, I wrote about how many people were talking about 2016 being the worst year ever. Ha! You poor fools... you had no idea what a bad year was, or what was coming over the horizon.
So, obviously, 2020 was the worst year ever, right? Nope!
Ask someone from 1348, when one-third of Europe died from bubonic plague, how 2020 was in comparison. They'd say it was a fucking cakewalk. Too far back? Okay, how about 1968, when massive unrest due to Vietnam backlash and civil rights protests threatened to end global society as we knew it? Not bad enough? Let's go back some 66 million years, when a large rock slammed into Earth and nearly killed every living thing on the entire planet.
It Was Bad, Though
Look... I'm not saying that anyone who feels 2020 was a terrible year was wrong; you're not. We faced challenges that, for most of us, were unprecedented in our lifetimes. And we humans have a tendency to think of historical events like we do about a movie we've seen. Things that happened so long ago don't seem real, or seemingly don't have a direct impact on our day-to-day lives.
I started 2020 like most of you, feeling like it was just another year in a series of years that make up our relatively short lives. Instead, it was 12 months that included a global pandemic, an ensuing economic crash, political election year insanity, protests and riots over racial injustice and police brutality, global climate change that spurred some of our first fires and hurricanes in recorded history, and more. I'm not trying to sugarcoat any of this.
Good Thing We're Done with All That, Right?
Um... well... no. We're not done with any of it.
I'd like as much as anyone for the calendar to flip to January 1 on Friday, and have everything bad about 2020 magically disappear. I really would. But here's the reality.
COVID-19 is not going away any time soon. We will be better off as a whole as more people are administered the various vaccines, but that will take many months. In fact, at the current pace they're on, it would take 10 years to vaccinate everyone in the USA. Meanwhile, we're already seeing mutations in the COVID virus that may render the current vaccines ineffective. And, of course, not every person will even be willing to take the vaccine regardless, and those people will continue catching the virus and spreading it around.
Here in the USA, we're in the midst of a transition of leadership that's like no other in history. Even when the lame duck president begrudgingly leaves office as he eventually will, his actions have left us in a position where a good chunk of his followers will not accept the new administration, and will continue to cause problems in 2021 and beyond.
The changes in lifestyle due to the pandemic and the way it has affected the workplace and the way people get income might be, in some ways, permanent. We can confidently say that what we thought of as normal before 2020, from how we work to how we interact with other people in all areas of life, is likely never coming back to pre-2020 standards.
And what about the climate? Again, we will have no choice but to acknowledge that mankind's affect on the planet might have gone past the point of no return. Bigger storms, bigger fires, rising sea levels, crop failure, higher temperatures... this will continue to be a very sad trend throughout the remainder of my life, and represents the biggest existential threat toward humanity.
Gee, Thanks. Now I'm Depressed.
It's totally understandable that many people have had a hard time adjusting to this. People aren't good with change, especially rapid change. It seems impossible to me that less than a year ago, in January 2020, I was at a huge trade show with over 100,000 attendees... maskless, shaking hands, hugging people... it seems impossible to even consider today, and more than a little gross.
But here we are. We always have the potential to be better, and for trends of negativity to turn around to a positive note. And, in the interest of honesty and full disclosure, my personal 2020 had ups and downs, but I remained far, far better off than many people. My income remained steady. I did not get COVID-19, nor did anyone in my immediate family. I dealt with some shit, as everyone does every year, but I made it through. In 2020, making it through is a good enough reason to be grateful, and I truly am.
To end this little train of thought, I'll just say that I'm hopeful that on this date next year, at the end of 2021, I can look back and say that things got better. Even if it's just a little bit.
Wasn't This Blog About a Show?
Yes, of course. I played live on Tuesday night at Hotel Chelsea in Second Life. Max Kleene had been scheduled to perform before me, but apparently wasn't feeling well, so I arrived to a nearly empty venue as opposed to one already packed with people. It's never a great feeling. Also, as I warned my audience, I'm still dealing with the aftereffects of a bout of bronchitis, so my singing voice wasn't in tip-top condition.
But despite those factors, the show went just fine. We pulled in a small but seemingly happy crowd, the folks at Chelsea were as nice and accommodating as usual, and I pulled out several tunes that had remained absent in my sets for quite some time. It's good to mix it up now and then.
Hotel Chelsea set list...
Among the Leaves (Sun Kil Moon)
So. Central Rain (R.E.M.)
From the Beginning (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Trouble Child (Joni Mitchell)
Saved by Zero (The Fixx)
Tea in the Sahara (The Police)
Shame Chamber (Kurt Vile)
Mary Jane's Last Dance (Tom Petty)
Vendetta (They Stole My Crayon)
Alabama (Neil Young)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)