It has been one hell of a ride, this year known as 2020. As the relentless year begins to draw to a close, I feel the need to share a few quiet thoughts on the lessons I’ve (we’ve) learned in this unbelievably trying time. As a rule, I purposely do not intertwine our brand with our personal outlook on life, but the occasional exception to the rule can often be cathartic.

In Three Words
  • “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”― Robert Frost

Brilliant, right? Three little words I suspect ring true for millions of us. No matter what life throws at us, it goes on.

Lessons Learned in the Year 2020

It’s about this time each year when I sit down to write a reflection piece of the year. Usually, I write about where our travels took us, life at home, personal milestones, retirement trends, etc. When I sat down to write that post, I honestly could not find the words. I decided instead to think about a few lessons I’ve hopefully learned during this awful year, 2020.

More than anything I’ve learned, not only in 2020 but also in the past couple of years, is to stop making long range plans. This is especially true when it comes to travel plans. Every travel plan we had for 2020 was scrapped back in early March. Disappointed? Yes, but in the big picture it didn’t matter a damn.

In 2017, we sold our house and bought one-way tickets to Europe. When we left I was convinced I never wanted to buy another house. I wanted the freedom to pick up and change plans without having ties that bind. Not even one year later we returned to the US (for a wonderful reason) bought a house and settled in once again. What I’ve learned in 2020 is that I am exceedingly grateful for this little nest of ours that has given us shelter in the proverbial storm.

If 2020 has taught me anything it’s that shit happens. So, yeah, I’ve stopped making long range plans. I dream, but I don’t plan.

Learning to Live with Covid-19

I sleep reasonably well, but each morning I awaken exhausted. I am, like millions of others, mentally fatigued and emotionally exhausted. The Covid-19 pandemic has been absolutely brutal. But after nine months, we’ve learned a few lessons on how to live with the virus.

As reported on NBC 11/15/2020 – The virus is out of control in the US while the “president” spends his days golfing and spewing baseless claims of election fraud.

We’ve learned how to live in a family bubble. We, along with immediate family members live in our individual homes, but within a bubble. In this way we stay connected and we continue to share the daily care of our grandson. Masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and protective eye wear are the norm for grocery runs and doctor’s appointments. And, because our grocery runs are fewer than average, we’ve learned that less is more. We don’t need to run to the store for every little thing.

2020 & The Election Campaigns

As awful as living with the virus has been, and will continue to be, it is the 2020 election cycle that has really taken a toll on our mental health. We can’t escape it, and truthfully, there are days when I don’t think we should.

The “president” and his administration would have us believe that up is down and down is up. It has been a non-stop bombardment on the senses since he took office in 2016. It’s as if we’re living in an alternate reality. The lesson learned is that we need to be aware of what is happening, and how best to use our voices in resistance. We’ve taken those lessons to heart and turned our words in to action.


As much as we need to be aware of the upheaval in the US, we also need to maintain a sense of balance. The fact that we’re not all in padded rooms is a testament to the human spirit.

  • “The human spirit is stronger than any government or institution.” Fela Kuti

When it all becomes a bit too much and we find ourselves losing our balance, we get in the car and explore within 100 miles of home. Doing so gives us a sense of normalcy, if even for just a day.

The Hard Lessons of Red & Blue

There are some lessons that are much harder to learn. Learning to live with wearing a mask pales in comparison to learning that 72 million people, for whatever the reason, voted hoping to secure another four years for the “president” and this administration. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

  • “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” ― Isaac Asimov

The politicalization of wearing a mask continues to defy logic. It is both heartbreaking and infuriating, but not at all surprising. If you compare these two maps, the distinction between red and blue, and masks versus no masks, is all too clear.

2020 election results
Photo credit: New York Times
2020 Coronavirus
Photo credit: New York Times

There is no such thing as the perfect country, (well, maybe New Zealand) because every country has its problems. The year 2020 has taught me that the historical dark underbelly of the US runs much deeper and wider than I could have ever imagined. That’s another hard pill to swallow and a painfully difficult lesson to learn.

Lessons to be Learned

I often refer to the United States as the Divided States, and sadly, I don’t see anything changing for years to come. There is a rift in this country that I fear will never heal. It is, at the very least, the worst possible scenario for holding on to the democratic process.

Despite the obvious election outcome, I recently learned there will be no peaceful transfer of power in Washington, DC come January 20, 2021. There is no precedence for such a disrespectful slam to the democratic process.

2021. With that change of a single digit comes a ray of hope for better days ahead with new lessons to be learned. And, hopefully, some sense of peace.

Photo credit: Rick Steves

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