2021 Year in Review
Throughout most of 2020 I wrote a daily update on the pandemic until I ran out of gas on the last day of the year. While I didnít have the energy, nor the material, to write a daily post, with another year in the books, it seems appropriate to provide an update.
As we closed 2020 everything was looking good. Vaccines were available less than a year after the virus was first isolated and all the testing pointed to incredible effectiveness. As measured by the health of my family, I would have to agree that the vaccines were an incredible accomplishment.
But 2021 saw two new variants that changed the outlook from a year ago. First Delta and then the Omicron variants added challenges but mostly for the unvaccinated.
Here we are at the close of 2021 and we still havenít shaken this thing. I remember back in March of 2020 thinking that after a 14 day quarantine, as a country, we could quickly kill this thing. That didnít quite happen. I remember telling my mom that we might be inconvenienced for a year thinking that we would easily do better than that. I was wrong.
As we close 2021, Iím thinking ahead to 2022 and wondering what life will look like a year from now.
Movies. I found a ticket to the last movie we attended in a theater from February 2020 (Emma). I think weíve made up for it with a lot more TV but certainly miss going to the movies. That said, neither of us are eager to sit indoors with a bunch of people wearing masks. I remember the days of no sports, followed by no sports with fans in the stands and Iím personally happy that television sports seem to have returned to normal.
Masks. In September of 2019 we took a vacation to Japan. We were fascinated by all the mask wearers and when I saw masks for sale at a 7/11 store, I bought a bunch with the idea that we would all wear them for a fun family picture. That family picture didnít happen but the masks got used just months later. We are still wearing masks but it no longer feels like the inconvenience I felt a year ago.
Family. We are no longer in isolation and are able to visit our vaccinated family and friends. In the case of my mother, the isolation seems to have had a significant impact that ultimately led to taking her car keys away from her and moving her into an assisted living program. I took three trips to LA driving instead of flying trips largely because they involve fewer people interactions. We were able to celebrate Christmas this year with family (all tested the morning of the party) this year.
Car Rides. The streets were empty for much of the early pandemic and even after buying a car in August 2020 by May 2021 there were fewer than 2,000 miles on the carĖthere just wasnít much cause to drive. Beyond the trips to LA, Iím putting more miles on my car but mostly small trips to run errands.
Exercise. I stopped paying dues to my expensive health club back in March 2020. In November of 2021 they determined that it was either time for me to return to the club or my membership would be terminated. I said that I would return if the club would simply require all staff and members to be vaccinated, but they were unwilling to do so. While 91% of the county is vaccinated, apparently they thought it would be a bad business decision. We parted ways but not before they threatened that if I ever wanted to return that there would now be a steep membership feeĖevidently to punish me for not wanting to join the heavy breathing disease ridden unvaccinated. Iíll continue my exercise regime that happens in my garage and I call my ďjail cell workout.Ē
Politics. 2021 was a year that returned to ďnormalcyĒ under Democratic rule, if just barely. It didnít start out that way. On January 6th the outgoing president incited a riot in a failed attempt to overturn the election results. I remember sitting at my desk watching it unfold on live TV struggling to comprehend what my eyes were seeing. This began as fiction that continues today. If Iíve learned anything this past year itís how uninformed so many fellow Americans are. They donít trust our news, they donít trust the science of medicine, and they seem to easily believe the fiction that regularly comes out of Fox News. As a result Iíve lost any interest in opinion polls. But, as a Marketer Iím fascinated by how apparently easy it is to make people believe this stuff. If only I could figure a way to harness this gullibility and grow the Democratís precarious footprint.
Mortality. As my brother and I took more of a leadership role in my momís life, I started thinking a lot more about my mortality. My motherís move to an assisted living home got me thinking a lot about getting old. Not her so much as me and my own mortality! Retirement is frankly wasted on old people. If we could only retire in our twenties, thatís the time of life when we could really enjoy our retirement years. Of course Iíve spent much of my life thinking about the year 2022 because thatís the year when I officially become old and turn 60. I guess I can afford to retire, but Iím not exactly sure what I would do with all that extra time. I have a fear of being bored and retirement seems to raise that possibility. Frankly as I get older, just sitting in front of a computer sounds pretty good. No clear vision just yet but lots of thinking.
Family. 2021 was a good year for the boys. Kevin took a new job at Apple that I might have taken if so offered. He is working to develop apps designed to work with the retail stores. He interviewed remotely, works remotely and has never met his team face to face. Scott completed his third year plugging away at his PhD research and seems to be enjoying his role in advancing our knowledge of neuroscience. Separately he won a national innovation prize that came with a whopping $11,000 in prize money. As proud as we are of our two boys, we are also a little proud of our success as parents. We think we did our job well.
Big Thoughts. I spent a lot of time in 2021 thinking about space. It was the year when anyone with an extra $20 million or so could buy a 12 minute ride into space. Iím sure the view is spectacular but I learned that weightlessness is more like falling to earth. My outer space thinking included a few science fiction books and the fascination with the new James Webb Telescope that is traveling to a dark shady part of space in order to look further into space than anyone has ever looked before. Since the light we see is millions of years old, itís an opportunity to look back in timeĖso to speak. There were two lessons that I relearned this year.
Space has 200 billion galaxies and our galaxy has about 100 billion stars.
Humans have dominated the earth for about 50,000 years and our written history barely covers 2,000 of those years and the 100 years or so any one of us live is just a tiny drop in humanityís bucket.
Conclusion: our consciousness is the center of our world but barely a spec in the bigger scheme of things. I wonder what weíll discover in 2022.
Bigger Thoughts. As much as I thought about space, I probably spent just as much time thinking about my pillow. If you think about it, there is nothing in our personal universe that we are more intimate with than our pillows. I bought a new pillow this year for the first time in a couple of decades and it certainly is in my top ten of highlights for the year. Not knowing how to buy a new pillow, I spent time researching only to discover that searching for a ďsquishy down pillowĒ led to learning that there was such a thing as a ďstomach sleeperís pillow.Ē I donít think of myself as a stomach sleeper, but I love what those stomach sleepers have done with pillows. I couldnít be happier with my purchase and say ďahhhĒ to myself every time I rest my head on the new pillow. I love it!
After almost two years of inconvenience, Iím wondering about what is temporary and what might stick. Work will clearly change at least for some and Iím unlikely to rush back to a cruise ship any time soon. Itís hard for me to imagine going to a basketball game right now but I imagine that that will change as things settle down. My wardrobe has clearly changed. Today itís comprised of about 60 t-shirts that go through a steady rotation. 2021 was the first year in my life when no shoes were purchased. Less shoe wearing means less shoe buying.
Off we go into 2022. I wonder what they year ahead is likely to hold.
December 29, 2021
© Greg Harris, 2022
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