Hanging on with a mere string of hope

I don’t imagine there are many people who will be sad to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. Of course, there is no guarantee 2021 will be any better. Still, I’m ready to at least give it a try.

First, it’s time to appropriately say goodbye to 2020:

• Goodbye 2020, it won’t be the same here without you … thank God!

• Goodbye and keep the change, ya filthy animal.

• Goodbye, 2020, you are the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended a nostril (that’s one of Shakespeare’s best).

• It’s not the goodbye that hurts, it’s the flashbacks and nightmares that follow.

There. I feel better now.

This past year has been a really difficult time for many people. Covid-19 messed up our lives. We have lived through a contentious and divisive election. It has been hard mentally and emotionally on all of us.

My year has been complicated by the deaths of a number of people who were close friends of mine over the years. It seems like every time I turn around there’s another knockout punch coming my way.

There are times I think I should just pack up, move to a cabin in the mountains and lock the door. This would work except for the fact that I’m no mountain man and living without electricity and things like a refrigerator and air conditioning probably would kill me. If that didn’t, I’d probably get eaten by a bear.

I could just jump out the window but I live in a ranch so the only thing that would accomplish would be wrecking the screen, which I would then have to take to the hardware store to get fixed.

I know, I shouldn’t complain. Almost everyone has had a bad year, except for maybe rich investors, pharmaceutical companies, Russian hackers and Mr. Whipple. It could be a lot worse.

I was born in 1956 so I missed the 20th-century trifecta of World War I (plus flu pandemic), the Great Depression and World War II. The people who lived through all of that had a right to complain. For me, the Cold War was pretty nerve-wracking for a little kid, always wondering when some crazy Russian or Chinese guy would drop the Big One on me. The 1960s riots scared a lot of people, Vietnam tore the country apart, Watergate was a crisis of confidence and there have been various financial disasters and medical scares along the way. There was the Frank Robinson trade and the Royals leaving Cincinnati — OK, scratch those last two. They did seem like a big deal at the time to a 10-year-old.

But none of those events seemed as bad to me as 2020.

So what can we do? I was wondering about that the other day when I heard this story.

A man came upon a little boy holding the end of a string, which stretched up into the sky. The man looked at the boy and at the string, and then up into the air.

“What are you doing?” he asked the boy.

“Flying a kite,” the boy replied.

The man looked up again.

“It must be way up there,” he said. “I can’t even see it.”

“I can’t see it either,” the boy said.

“Well,” the man said, “If you can’t see it, how do you know it’s still there?”

“I don’t have to see it,” the boy said. “Every once in a while, I feel a little tug on the other end of the string. That means it must still be there.”

So as 2021 starts, I’m just hanging onto the string, hoping for a tug or two. I can’t see that it necessarily will be any better, but there’s always hope. Just don’t let go of the string.