I want to take you back to 1994, where my birth was only the 2nd best thing to happen to the world. Outdone only by the release of the one and only Forrest Gump, one of the most quotable movies out there. It was from this movie that we got the quote “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”… And if that ain’t 2020 in a nutshell, then I don’t know what is.
For me, 2020 is like when you drive with one of your mates for the first time and find out that they are a shocking driver... There is nothing you can do, you are literally strapped into a fast moving vehicle on what feels like the 3rd and final lap of Mario Kart on Rainbow Road. Only for you to arrive at the destination with the car in tact and your friend chiming in “but did you die?!”.
I want you to close your eyes (well maybe not, cause then you can’t read this… or this… I’m hoping by now you’ve realised that this was a stupid idea and you are back with me) and think back to a time at the end of last year where you had a spare second to yourself and could reflect on the year passed and the year ahead. For me, it was sitting on a deck chair in New Zealand, looking out at a beautiful sunset over luscious green hills. In your wildest dreams, could you even begin to imagine the year that was in store for you? Looking back, does it make you appreciate previous years, regardless of how difficult they may have seemed at the time? Imagine… the 2020 version of you (hair frizzy, several kilograms heavier, ripping into the sourdough bread you learnt to bake over iso) sitting your past self down at that particular moment in time to try and explain what the year ahead had in store, you’d be sent to a mental institute for sure.
I started writing this in June…
At that point over 100,000 sq. km of Australian land had been destroyed by fire and Celeste Barber became a national hero. Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash giving a whole new meaning to yelling “Kobe” when you splash a shot in beer pong. Harry and Meghan left the royal family and it was pretty much RL Hunger Games, then the UK were like f**k it, if they can do it we can too and left the EU. Iran was hit by a US drone strike and Weinstein was convicted… And that was just January.
Australian’s shed a tear as General Motors pulled the good ‘ol Holden from our shores and Melbourne was shook as 4 police officers lost their lives. Then someone decided it would be fun to eat a bat and in the words of Trump… the “Kung Flu” began (…if only this was the worst thing Trump did in 2020 *sigh*). It was at this point, we all began a very intimate relationship with the same four walls as we progressively lost more and more freedoms, there was a small 2 week respite which only made the reality of the 2nd lockdown much harder. It was here we stayed for the best part of the next 6 months with the lyrics of The Rembrandts “when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year” ringing in all of our ears. It sort of felt like we were back at school when all the other classes had been let out for lunch but your WHOLE class was kept in because of a FEW bad students and you sat there watching everyone else outside having fun.
Comedian Ross Noble put it perfectly: “COVID in Australia is like the Spice Girls. Everyone is trying but Victoria is ruining it for everyone”. For some this meant comfort eating, for others it meant more time to exercise, some found new hobbies like drawing, baking (mostly bread) and DIY projects. For others it meant DIY haircuts, Tik Tok dances, Netflix binges (did someone say Tiger King) and the introduction of HouseParty and Zoom parties. We saw the Karen’s come out to play and the insanity as people stocked up on the ‘essentials’… like toilet paper!
In the midst of this, George Floyd was killed and Black Lives Matter protests began with riots growing throughout America. Kim Jong-un apparently died, but then miraculously came back to life (…go figure). SpaceX launched a rocket and Elon Musk named his baby… Beep Boop Bee-Bee Boop *insert error message here*. Oh and half of Melbourne’s water became undrinkable because sewage seeped in… Talk about having a s**t time.
We’ve now caught up… until the end of June anyway.
We’re now at the end of December and while I’d love to say the year picked up… it didn’t. July saw China announce that they had uncovered new cases of a mutated Swine Flu and the black plague (let me guess… Simpsons predicted this too?), August saw a Russian opposition leader poisoned and September saw Australia go into economic recession. The presidential election began (if you can call it that) and Donald Trump downplayed the existence of COVID, then got COVID then suggested people should inject themselves with disinfectant. Biden inevitably won and Trump inevitably claimed the election was rigged… Which in the words of Alanis Morissette is a little too ironic.
Oh you thought that was it? Well China posted a photo-shopped image of an Australian soldier which opened a can of worms to alleged war crimes performed by the Australian military. And somewhere among all of this murder hornets infiltrated the US, locusts swarmed East Africa and we lost Jerry Stiller, Chadwick Boseman, Little Richard, Kenny Rogers, Naya Rivera, Grant Imahara, Sean Connery, Eddie Van Halen and many other celebrities to a range of causes. Victoria finally got our COVID cases under control, only for NSW to f**k it for all of us and now the Melbourne NYE fireworks being cancelled is the least of our worries (I can here Whitesnake now… Here [we] go again).
2020 saw me become unemployed, my basketball season cancelled, university went online, both parents had stints in hospital, my only remaining grandparent passed away, my dog’s health considerably deteriorated and my mental health took a dangerous dip. And we could very easily focus on all of this (I’d be kidding myself and you if I said 2020 was anything other than a shocking year), or we can focus on the small good things that happened in 2020. For me, I pulled myself out of a very low point, transformed myself both mentally and physically losing 13kg and being in the best shape of my life. I discovered which friendships were real, building bonds with certain people that may have never happened without a year where having a supportive network was imperative just to make it through.
Additionally, you may have forgotten, but: the world came together to support Australia after our bush fires, scientists have found a COVID-19 vaccine, America got their first woman VP, people found time to up-skill on things they may have never considered in the past, the world found new ways to connect and celebrities (musicians, chefs, comedians etc) were very generous with their time. Italians came out to their balconies showing mate-ship like no other joining to sing beautiful melodies, carbon emissions declined and the Venice canals were clear. Chris Evans accidentally leaked his own nudes and 100 year old Sir Tom Moore walked 100 laps of his garden to raise over 33 million pounds for the NHS and to raise awareness for anyone feeling lonely or frightened during the pandemic.
And last but not least, without 2020, we wouldn’t have the infamous and ever so influential… “Get on the beers”!
So as we enter this New Year, let us not be sad or angry… but instead acknowledge the challenges, the personal growth and the realisation that we can never take a minute of our ‘normal’ lives for granted ever again.
We’ve all come out of this year with scars (physical, metaphorical or both) and they might be ugly… but they will ALWAYS remind you that you survived!
So here’s to hopefully a bigger and better year ahead for us all!