After the American Century
A year ago no one had heard of COVID-19, and 2020 looked like it might be a good year. Like all new years, it had the benefit of the doubt. It was more than disappointing. Some good results. Donald Trump was defeated, even if he refused to believe it himself and constructed fantasy explanations. But he did a great deal of damage to the United States, the world's climate, and the credibility of democracy.
The pandemic has kept me in my house most of the year, starting in March. I completed one book and wrote another one. Both will appear in 2021. The work was my escape from tedium, from the haunting news stories of suffering, and from the mostly rainy weather. But compared to many people I was fine, and I appreciate that.
2020 was a year to savor small pleasures and to grab the small opportunities for adventure that came along. The high point for me in this regard was an unexpected invitation to help a friend move a boat from Århus to Fåborg, a two day journey. As it turned out, these two days in June were the best two of the summer, in terms of sunshine and gentle winds. They were also two of the longest days of sunlight. My friend had just bought a small fiberglass sail boat, used, which had a motor that pushed us along at 5 knots, since there was little wind. There was a small area below where we kept some food and drink, and it could sleep two people.
|Sailing toward the Lillebælt Bridge, June, 2020|
We did not spend the night, however, but put the boat in the Middelfart marina and went to our separate homes. The boat needed to be cleaned a bit and fitted up before it would be pleasant to spend the night. But it moved smoothly through the water, and I saw a few seals and two small whales. There were many islands that I had only seen on maps. A god bit of the time I held the tiller, but taking directions from my friend, as he has sailed these waters for decades. Those two days also stand out, because due to the lockdown my wife and I could not take our vacation in the US, and no other good options were available for the days she had off.
The two day adventure on the sailboat turns out to be my most pleasant outdoor memory of 2020. But there were other good days, too, short rides and long walks in the local countryside. There was the pleasure of both working in the same place again, on different floors of the house, because my wife's employer was ordered to send everyone to work at home. This meant coffee breaks and lunch together for a change. I also walked around, 10,000 steps a day, all over town, avoiding the commercial areas, and often in the evenings during the long twilight of spring and summer. If it had not been for the pandemic, it would have been OK.
Posting this on the last day of 2020, we can look forward to vaccination sometime in the spring. I might even get outside the country, if it is safe to travel. But in 2020 I learned to live within more narrow limits.