THAT AND THAT: It is a yr to neglect, however what about in the present day? | traits

“I will not be satisfied with yesterday’s successes

I cannot live on promises from winter to spring

This is my moment and now is my story

Who knows what tomorrow will bring “

– From “Today” as sung by the New Christy Minstrels

The end is in sight and there are probably not too many people on this planet who will not be happy when 2020 comes to an end.

A pandemic has changed life for almost everyone. People have gotten sick and too many have died from COVID-19. Others have seen economic devastation as they lost jobs or companies drowned in the tsunami of the collateral effects of the virus.

Children have seen changes in their education. Concepts such as hybrid and distance learning have overtaken the generations of face-to-face teaching familiar from the Americans. Most of us didn’t even realize that we’d been studying face to face. We just went to school. But that was before 2020.

Masks that were once relegated to Halloween celebrities and bank robbers can now be seen on almost every face. Disinfectant gel and spray can be found in almost all companies, in every household and in many of our automobiles. Hand washing, once before a meal, is a matter of course after any contact with external sources – 20 seconds of scrubbing to ward off the virus.

Terms like quarantine, social distancing, bladder, and cohort, which were rarely used before this year, are now widely understood in light of the coronavirus. And no one looked forward to getting more than the millions waiting for protection from the recently approved vaccination.

But is 2020 a total write-off? Hasn’t there been anything valuable to forget this year?

My wife and I used the time to clean up the overgrown vegetation in the back yard and in the side gardens. We planted grass. We weed the garden. We brought down stubborn vines and dug up more smilax bulbs than I want to remember.

Like others, we’ve found that we’ve failed to see friends on a regular basis, but Facebook and other social media have allowed us to keep in touch. We started a daily ritual with our Chicago family hour on FaceTime. Although we couldn’t be there in person, we spent more time with Ezra and Aviv via the internet connection than if we could have gone to the Windy City.

Just when you thought you couldn’t teach an old dog new tricks, I learned. Teaching at USC Aiken for almost 20 years was a way to use my journalistic skills and meet lots of young people. This semester, I was the one who learned a lot.

Instead of going to class every Tuesday and Thursday morning, I went to my upstairs office and taught on the university’s blackboard mode of transport. It took me a while to get used to this form of teaching, but I (and the students) made it.

Mary Lou and I have skipped the occasional takeaway dinner and our favorite dishes that are cooked at home. And picking up coffee for your favorite drink has become a regular undertaking. On one such occasion, I had time to reflect on this year and what it means.

When I got to the pickup window on a Sunday morning to pick up the hot latte for Mary Lou, the drink was still being made. Then the young woman at the window said that there was a question of the day whether I would like to answer it. I was in the car and at that point I had nothing else to do. I replied in the affirmative.

It had the effect: “Which song symbolizes your life?” I was expecting something like, “Who won the 1960 World Series?” something I know so well (Pittsburgh Pirates). But this question surprised me. I thought quickly and said, “Today.” The woman at the window looked at me questioningly and said she had never heard of it.

The song appeared in an album of the same name in 1964 released by The New Christy Minstrels. Somewhere in my mind I silently conjured up the melody and some of the lyrics – those found at the beginning of this column.

“Why this?” She asked.

I explained that even with a pandemic, we shouldn’t be too hasty when we wish for the year. There is nothing we can do about it yesterday. It has come and gone, and when we think about it, we live in the past.

Tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. We can plan and look forward to the days to come, but life in the future ignores the present. Today is the only one we can actually do something about. If we sit around hoping for tomorrow’s promises and lamenting yesterday’s sufferings, what do we do today?

I try to live in the here and now – pandemic or not. Today is the day that counts.

Happy New Year to all.

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