The first of January is the time when most people make (and often immediately break) resolutions, and I’m no exception. My list most years is pretty standard – exercise more, drink less, read more, watch more TV and movies (for work!), sleep better.
But this New Year’s feels different, for two reasons. One is that the year itself needs to make some resolutions. 2020 has been heedlessly, horribly cruel. I’d like assurances that the New Year is going to kill fewer people.
There is, mind you, an odd philosophical flip side to the death toll from COVID-19, now nearing two million worldwide. There are some people alive today who would not be, in a world where the virus didn’t happen. Think of the trips not taken in 2020, the accidents that didn’t happen. There’s no way to know, and standing too long at the corner of what-if and what-did can drive you mad, but you might owe your life to a lockdown.
The virus has also given us weird moments of beauty. I remember a working-from-home morning walk in my East Toronto neighbourhood. It was 8:30 on a warm morning in late March, and as I crossed Queen Street during what would have been packed rush-hour traffic a month earlier, I saw only a lone pickup truck and a raccoon, who glared at the vehicle until it stopped, then ambled carelessly in front of it. In the nearby park, raucous bird song was the only noise, and wild chickadees lit on my hand to snack on sunflowers seeds.