The past is not dead. It’s not even past.”
– William Faulkner
It is the first day of 2020 and, in all honesty, there is not much we can say about this year right now, so there is a tendency to look back at 2019 and think about all that happened. Still, people can feel it is over, done, kaput! The past is the past. Let’s focus on what is to come.
Everyone finds themselves in the same place as the calendar page turns to January, but it is how we react to it that is different. 2019 is barely cold, so why kick the old man to the curb? Should we welcome the nascent 2020 as warmly as if it were a cute, cuddly Baby Yoda? Yes, of course we should, but how wise is it to look back at the past year and think about everything that happened? Should we let the events of 2019 dictate how to handle the new year ahead?
This is not just the end of a year but also the end of a decade. Think about what you were doing on December 31, 2009. Where were you and who was with you? Sadly, I have lost loved ones since that date, and yet they seem oddly present in my daily life. I think about them often and, in the case of my father, I communicate with him daily. In this way the past doesn’t seem past at all.
Still a decade is a ponderous thing to weigh on one’s mind, and its heft can be a bit overwhelming. Think about those ten years – 120 months, 520 weeks consisting of 3653 days (thanks to Leap Years) – and all that you did, said, ate, drank, and slept. Is it even possible to process that time in a way that is equitable to all the memories involved?
So, how do you look at the decade? How do you look at 2019? As something over and done with? Or is it a living and breathing thing that we can revisit, examine, and treat as a work still in progress?
Most of us remember the major events of the teens, and I have seen end of year and end of decade lists regarding movies, TV, music, news stories, celebrity deaths, and so on. My intention is not to regurgitate any of that. There are enough of these sometimes very subjective lists already conjured and prepared for us to use in discussions should they arise.
I will note personally that this has been an incredible decade for Star Wars fans like my son and me. There were five new films (The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker, Rogue One, and Solo), three animated series (The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance), and one live action series (The Mandalorian). Also, let us not forget Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the Disney parks. That is more Star Wars content than in any other decade!
During these past ten years, my immediate family and I have traveled extensively and enjoyed seeing new countries and learning about them. We have experienced family joy at multiple high school and college graduations, one law school graduation, one nursing school graduation, and two nephews’ graduations from the FDNY academy. We have attended family weddings, anniversaries, christenings, and birthday parties, and have had the joy of new babies to celebrate.
Despite having to deal with the loss of loved ones, the past decade has been a great journey. These moments don’t go away; they stay with us long after the music stops playing and the lights go out. Memory is a wonderful, beautiful, bittersweet thing – and for some people it is all they have. So, the past can never be past because it is relived again and again until we too pass away, but then we exist in our surviving loved ones’ memories, and so it goes on and on.
So, let us embrace 2020, for it is brimming with hopeful possibilities.
2020 is here in a fresh diaper and chugging a cold bottle of milk. Before you know it, 2020 will be a toddler by the end of January and going away to college at the end of March. They grow up so fast, so enjoy it now.
Happy New Year! Happy New Decade too!!