In northern climates, the mid winter celebrations were traditionally a welcome respite, an opportunity to rest and forget the harsh realities of climate and circumstance for a short while. But our ancestors also knew, that once the holidays were done, winter was just beginning. They were facing several long, cold months where they would significantly rely on the preparations and plans they had made the previous season, and hoped they would be enough.
So they settled in for the long haul, mending nets, carding, spinning and weaving, cutting next winter's wood and hauling it out of the forests, setting snares, playing games and telling stories as the days slowly got longer. Neighbors would help each other out, sharing what they had, to ensure the community survived the bitter winter. And if times were hard, come spring, communities would look at how they might be better prepared, for there always was a next time.
In the modern era, we in North America have largely been spared from many of the harsh realities of our ancestors. And then 2020 arrivethd, and much that many of us had taken for granted was hit hard. Scarcity and rationing became the norm in many areas. Jobs and businesses changed or disappeared. Travel was restricted. Isolation became the norm for most people. The rules of engagement were rewritten. Death was suddenly at the front door of many homes in ways not experienced for at least several generations.
As 2021 begins, many parts of the continent and the world are still in lock down. Travel restrictions are still with us. Unemployment is still high and things are far from what they were. But hope is also on the horizon. Vaccines are being distributed. More areas are getting control of their COVID19 infection rates. But we are not out of the woods yet.
Like our ancestors, we need to realize that we are in this for the long haul. And once our situation stabilizes globally, we need to seriously consider what our next moves need to be. For as some epidemiologists have pointed out, COVID19 will not be the last threat we face. And climate change hasn't disappeared either. We have a lot to consider as a species.
I think that's why I've spent so much time on my Forgotten Worlds series over the past few years. We've got a lot in common with the crew of the Reacher and its fleet.
Life was far from perfect before their journey began. Groups of people within their society were exploited and oppressed. There was a lack of appreciation for environmental balance and the rights of sentient beings. Then suddenly things changed. The oppressed rose up. Groups of people who once thought working together as equals was impossible were suddenly thrust together, dependent upon one another for survival.
These are the types of circumstances that bring out the best and worst in people. Some will frantically hold on to outdated ways of thinking and living, blind to the fact that those will just not cut it anymore. Circumstances have irrevocably changed. There is no going back to the way things were. Collectively we have to dig deep, face up to some inconvenient truths about ourselves and our societies, and find enough in common to move forward.
Sometimes, growth like this can be painful. Some people will flatly refuse to move forward. The people of the fleet faced similar challenges. While every opportunity to help people face the new reality must be afforded, like the crew of the Reacher and the fleet, we cannot allow the survival of our species to be threatened by the stubbornness of the few. Difficult decisions may need to be made.
What gives me hope is my faith in people. I believe that like the crew of the Reacher and the fleet, we have it in us to rise above our current challenges, to look after one another better, to find new ways to let people shine and make a place for themselves and their families.
Our ancestors kept moving forward without the benefits of history, science, technology, and communications that we have.
If they could settle in for the long haul, so can we.
There is a longstanding tradition to make resolutions as one approaches a new year. Too often, I've set lofty goals, struggled to keep them for a few weeks, then succumbed to the mundane challenges thrown in my path and settled for less. Sound familiar?
I think a lot of the problem has been the type of resolutions I make. It is so easy to set oneself up for failure, isn't it? I know I'm guilty of that. And too many goals seem to come from a place of lack inside me. "I will lose 20 pounds." "I will be more productive at work." "I will be a better person."
Each of these suggests that I don't think I am enough as I am, or that somehow I'll be so much happier once I get to this "new" place. I've lived long enough to understand that this is not how it works. And this past year was a stark reminder that life is what happens while we all make plans, and so many things that impact our lives are completely beyond our control.
Interestingly, my dog had a pretty good year. She enjoyed the company of her humans. She learned new ways to amuse herself at home. She enjoyed her walks as much as she did in 2019, maybe more so. She took pleasure in the daily rituals of home life, such as meal times and naps. She paid attention to her surroundings and her people, doing what she could to be supportive and to uplift us.
As I observed her throughout the year, I realized that we could learn much from our furry friends. So this year, I've decided to be more like a dog. My first two resolutions for 2021 are as follows:
In the mad search for an exercise routine that could hold my interest as well as be practiced safely during a Newfoundland winter, I discovered something called "techno shuffle".
I figured, well, I'm over seventy, I shuffle every day, should be a natural, right? I've found some tutorials on YouTube and if it works, I swear there will be video; if not, I'll deny everything.
Wish me luck!
What's that? What about writing in 2021? You want more books? Okay, I've got two first drafts ready for editing and another half written as well as several others under construction. I asked the dog for career advice and she just offered to share her favorite cushion with me. So I guess I'm on my own with this one.
So on with the show, Bring it 2021. We are all strapped in and ready to go for another year.
What resolutions have you made for the new year?