In 2020, Covid-induced work from home allowed me to see more sunsets than usual. In 2021, I added some sunrises to the mix (it turns out that, like sunsets, sunrises can be slightly addictive - though they’re still too early in the morning). So what better way to mark the transition to 2022 than watching the final sunset of 2021, and the first sunrise of 2022?
Farewell to 2021
At the start of 2021, I said that I hoped for it to be more like 2019 than 2020. Of course, it was going to have more restrictions than 2019, but coming into 2021 we’d seen a couple of months of relaxing restrictions after months of lockdown, and had been promised a great summer. Things that had been postponed in 2020 were definitely scheduled for 2021. Yes, it relied on Victoria first remaining CovidFree, then achieving a high vaccination rate, but there was some optimism in the air.
By the end of March I’d been to more concerts and plays than I had in all of 2020, and there were many more planned for the year. And by the middle of May I’d spent a couple of weeks exploring parts of Victoria that were new to me. Back then, I’m not sure I was as worried about lockdowns, short or long, as I had been.
Then came the second half of the year, and for us it felt like a bad re-run of 2020. The re-run that no-one had asked for.
Yes, like the original it included moments of re-opening and joy and connection, but it also included long periods of lockdown and of isolation. And, in a new twist, I even managed to spend Christmas Day in isolation (that can be a story for another day).
The joke at the start of the year was that 2021 was the year 2020 won. By the end of the year the joke seemed less funny.
At the start of 2021, I’d actually thought about seeing the first sunrise for the year, but realised I had no idea where to go to see it. However, by the end of 2021 I’d seen no fewer than thirteen sunrises in different parts of Victoria. Clearly the first sunrise of 2022 was the right time to find a good viewpoint near me.
My brother suggested that Kalorama Lookout might be a good spot, and it looked to be facing the right direction, so that’s where I went. And when I found the car park was full and the lookout was swarming with people I guessed he was right. Fortunately, I knew the area well enough to find parking, then an appropriate viewing point halfway up the hill (which, for an added bonus, meant I had it to myself without the crowds).
It was short, but it was well and truly worth it. Then I went for an early morning walk before returning home for breakfast and bed.
For me, seeing the sunset was a chance to see off a year which hadn’t lived up to expectations (though it had its moments…). And choosing to seek out the sunrise was a choice for optimism. A choice for hope. Just like last year.
Last year, I was glad to have opportunities to explore my own state and discover its sunrises. This year, I hope to be able to see sunrises (and sunsets) in the Northern Hemisphere.
In November we re-opened our international borders, quarantine free. We started to roll back restrictions, and continued to do so in December. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction.
Now we have brought back some of those restrictions, and face rapidly rising case numbers - in summer. We’ve joined much of the rest of the world in our “living with Covid” strategy, at a time when the world is worried by yet another Covid threat. It’s hard to have the same optimism as in November.
However, twelve months is a long time, and a lot can change between now and the end of the year. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to travel internationally this year, and if so whether it will be wise to do so. But what I do know is that that’s what I’m hoping for. Like last year, I’m not going to ignore the realities of the situation, but nor am I going to ignore the importance of having things to hope for.
The recycling of the memes
I’ve been seeing some of the same memes about the approach of 2021 repurposed to 2022. Including the one I used in my first 2021 post:
I hate that they’re still relevant. The turning of the year is an arbitrary point, so I didn’t expect January 2021 to magically solve all 2020’s problems, nor did I expect January 2022 to solve all 2021’s problems.
However, the reality now is that Australia has done better with our vaccination program than I think I would have expected at the start of the year, and it still might not be enough. And that’s a bitter pill to swallow.
The joke continues: 2022 is 2020 too. I hope that’s not really true. I hope that we’ve had our last lockdown. I hope things don’t get worse for us when autumn wanes and winter approaches. And I hope the situation improves in other parts of the world as well.
But I can’t be sure: I can only hope, then deal with the situation as it presents itself.
The verse I wrote at the turning of the decade (yes, before the pandemic changed everything) still seems relevant here:
Joys and sorrows mingle on the threshold
Let them in? Who would be so bold?
See! They come in, like it or not
Perchance they may improve our lot
Like all years, 2022 won’t be perfect. But nor do I think it will it be a complete loss.
I’m sure it will contain both unexpected pleasures and unexpected sorrows. Maybe one of those will win over the other, for me or for the world generally. Or maybe it will be fairly neutral. But I’m going to face the year with hope.
This time round, I won’t hope for the year to be like 2019 (though maybe I’ll still hope that it’s more like 2019 than 2020). I don’t see a “return to normal” any time soon, though I still say twelve months is a long time, and I’m not going to try and predict what will change in that time.
For now I’m just going to take the year on its own terms and see what happens. I’ll wait to see what I’m permitted to do, then decide which of those permitted things I’m actually comfortable with doing. Just like I have throughout this pandemic.
Take for example community theatre: I know the community theatre programs for 2022 have plays originally scheduled for 2020. Most of them had been rescheduled to 2021, and some of them I even had tickets for. Maybe they’ll actually run in 2022. Maybe they won’t. But at this stage I think I’d be surprised if I’m unable to go to any of them this year.
International travel feels more of a distant goal. I have hopes, yes, but there’s far too much uncertainty to actually be confident of it. All I can do is wait and see.