The Worst Year, The Best Year

It is fairly well known that I enjoy finding meaning in light pop pieces. Hey, anyone can find significant meaning in The Scarlett Letter or Moby Dick. But in a sitcom episode or a pop song? You bet!

This week, I’ve been thinking about a scene from the movie City Slickers. Three friends have gone on a vacation to a dude ranch, and they’re talking about the best and worst days of their lives:

Ed: I’m fourteen and my mother and father are fighting again. Y’know, because she caught him again. Caught him; this time the girl drove by the house to pick him up. And I finally realized, he wasn’t just cheating on my mother, he was cheating us. So I told him; I said, “You’re bad to us. We don’t love you. I’ll take care of my mother and my sister. We don’t need you any more.” And he made like he was gonna hit me, but I didn’t budge. And he turned around and he left. He never bothered us again. Well, I took care of my mother and my sister from that day on. That’s my best day.

What was your worst day?

[brief pause] Same day.

So what if that’s what 2020 is? A terrible year, and a terrific year. Worst of times and best of times. Live Oak member Tracy Norwood shared a poem by Leslie Dwight:

“What if 2020 isn’t cancelled?⁣
What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for?⁣
A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow.⁣
A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber.⁣
A year we finally accept the need for change.⁣
Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of⁣ pushing each other further apart.⁣
2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather⁣
the most important year of them all.”⁣

There is so much that is beyond our control. Whether 2020 is the worst year or not – so much of that is out of our hands. And the good will not erase the bad.

But I do know this. If there is any chance of that the arc of the universe tilts so that somehow, this is both the best and the worst year, it will require all of us, bringing all of our weight to bear upon it.

And what a day that might be, if we tell those who come after, “2020? Oh yes. Worst year.” And they ask us, “Well, then what was the best year?”

“Same year.”