2020: It’s Here – Or Is It?

2020 01 crop

Can someone please help me with a question?  How did it get to be 2020?

It just dawned on me a few days ago that 2020 is here.  Yes, we all knew it was coming but some of us tried not to look ahead too far.  Now that it is actually here, I still have some problems with the whole concept.

I have had some random thoughts about a new year and decade.  Although I know there will be some sticklers out there who will pedantically reply that 2020 will actually finish the decade and that we won’t really start a new one until 2021.  So I guess there is still some time left for those of us who were supposed to have accomplished things in what you thought was the decade we just finished.

For openers, I suppose we should be ready for a year of bad puns about eyesight.  If I make a prediction will it be a 2020 vision?  No few of them will probably come from me.  I probably need some new glasses so that I can be sure of a 20-20 2020.

And how did we get here already?  How did 1990 get to be thirty years ago?  Don’t laugh, this is serious.  That makes 1970 fifty years ago?  1970 wasn’t important enough to have been fifty years ago.  That was something special reserved for years like 1930 or 1940 when men were men and there were big things to do.

And this makes 1920 a hundred years ago?  Yikes.  1880 is a hundred years ago in my book.  For crying out loud, a century ago is supposed to be about cowboys and the lawless west where grizzled gunfighters walk through swinging doors and demand whiskey, not about flappers and prohibition. Although they also demanded whiskey, so maybe we can make this work.   But the idea that there were refrigerators and electric toasters in the kitchen of a century ago?  What is the world coming to?

And what about the veterans?  Look folks, here is how it is supposed to work:  The really old men are WWI vets while the WWII vets are in their 60s.  The guys who served in Korea still have kids at home and those Vietnam vets, well, aren’t they all still smoking joints and saying “man” at the end of every sentence?  But now this has all been upended.  Can the Vietnam vet of the present day really be as old as the WWI vet of my youth?  Holy Moley!

Yes, we are only a few days into it, but wasn’t 2020 supposed to be so much more, well, futuristic than this?  We were supposed to eat meals in the form of little pills and live in pods on other planets.  Even the flying cars that were supposed to have been here twenty years ago should have been replaced by teleportation by now.  But no.  Here it is 2020 and I am still dumping my weekly trash into a big can and taking it to the curb.  At least it has wheels.  The can, not the trash.  Trash with its own wheels would be a modern convenience I could get behind.  But then, just how many millennia ago was the wheel invented?  C’mon people, tick tock!

If a guy in the Midwest wants to go to, say, Philadelphia for some scrapple, is it really still necessary to either drive on the Pennsy Turnpike ( the original superhighway from 1940, which is now 80 years old, thank you very much) or get himself onto an aer-o-plane which flies just like the jets of, what, 60 years ago?  Those little bottles of scotch they serve you have not changed much either, so far as I can tell.

Perhaps I am still reeling from crossing that somber threshold of sixty this year.  I can’t be sixty because I just bought and ate a box of Sugar Pops.  Wait, they are not Sugar Pops anymore, but Corn Pops.  Did the regulators knock on the door of the Kellogg company and demand that truth-in-advertising laws require them to disclose that the cereal is really more corn than sugar (if only by a little)?  Who says government is wasteful?

Shouldn’t a real legit sixty year old be able to tell stories of shoveling coal into the furnace or about listening to The Shadow and The Lone Ranger on the radio because there was no such thing as television which has spoiled the hell out of you damned kids?All I’ve got is tales of sitting in an air conditioned house watching game shows in the summer until my mother would force us to go outside and find something to do.  Yes, we really roughed it in the old days.

And there is really no need to remind me that I am now in my seventh decade.  That would just be mean.

But here we are.  Most of “the old folks” have passed on, leaving a precious few stragglers.  In my own family there are a couple of them who hang on, blissfully unaware of the tremendous service they provide – still filling that crucial role of still being one of “the old folks” so that my siblings, cousins and I can continue to shirk responsibility as part of the group known as “you kids.”  Pay no attention to those dark-haired adults milling around drinking craft beer – they are “the little kids”.

I suppose it is time to finally acknowledge that time has a funny way of moving along, like a particular drop of water in a river, with more following along all the time.  All too soon I will be one of  “the old folks” and my children will be rolling their eyes at the clueless things I say.  More than they do now, I mean.

So it is time to buckle up and take it like a man.  Unless you would prefer to face it like a lady because that is a perfectly good option as well.  There is some good news in all of this – we won’t have to face this issue again for another ten years.  We should have more time available then, with the meal pills and teleportation, and all.

Photo Credit

Cropped cover of the (possibly foreign language) book “The Jetsons” by Giornalino, as offered for sale by Libraria Peterpan on Biblio.com and based on the Hanna-Barbara animated television show which was originally broadcast in 1962-63 on the ABC Television Network.

21 thoughts on “2020: It’s Here – Or Is It?

  1. My soon to be 96 year old Grandfather, whom I often talk about it seems, gave me some advice on aging and the passage of time a few years ago.

    He said “Jason, that first fifty years goes by at a decent pace – not too fast, not too slow. Then you turn fifty. After that, watch out. A year will seem like a week as time really flies. The other day I looked in the mirror to shave and scared the hell out of myself. I’m thinking ‘who is that old man?’ Well, it was me. That’s not a fun realization.”

    I remarked at work the other day about how it seems there are ever so many people who are younger than me. However, to offset that, this is the first time in my career I’ve been working with people my age; before it’s either been those much older or those much younger. Or maybe “my age” has a broader definition than it did before.

    May everyone have a happy new year!

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    • There are benefits – I no longer get carded when I buy adult beverages. And somewhere along the line people started calling me “sir.” It felt funny, but I have gotten used to it. My grandma would have agreed with your grandfather. She once said “wait until you’re my age – Christmas comes twice a year.”

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  2. F.H. Bradley, who would be 174 years old this month if time actually existed, can reassure us:

    “If you take time as a relation between units without duration, then the whole time has no duration, and is not time at all … Time, like space, has proven not to be real, but to be a contradictory appearance. It perishes in the endless process beyond itself.” (Appearance and Reality, Chapter IV)

    Woody Allen said the same thing more concisely: “Time is unreal, especially on weekends.”

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  3. Where I work everybody who reports directly to me was born after 1985. You know, the year I graduated high school. The year my oldest son was born. They all think I’ve got life all figured out. What they don’t know is that there are things to figure out at my age that they just don’t know exist yet.

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  4. Ah yes, 1985. The year of my law school graduation and the year I bought my first new car. I am reminded that a lawyer I worked for early on used a toung-in-cheek definition of a “recent” case as any case decided after his legal career. There are a lot more recent cases than there used to be.

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  5. At the dawn of the year 2020 A.D., I had many of the same reactions as you did. It’s as if you were reading my mind. In the 1970s & ’80s, the year 2000 had a futuristic, ominous ring to it–and now here we are 20 years hence.

    The fact is, time will never stop moving–one second per second, one year per year, always. Eventually it will be one year from now, then ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one million. I try to think of life as an internal combustion engine: the intake, the spark, the movement of the valves and pistons, all must occur at precise moments–and the engine purrs. Everything happens in it’s own good time. If things always remained as they are, life would stagnate into a monotonous hell, like “Groundhog Day.”

    However, I do mourn the loss of good things that will never return.

    There are mind-blowing videos on YouTube that show the awesome scale of the universe: ten trillion galaxies, each with 500 billion stars; with distances measured in millions of light years. Our perception of days and years and centuries pales in comparison. The grandeur and beauty of this creation tells me that there is a loving Creator behind it all–and beyond death (for those He chooses) even more incredible things are yet to come!

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    • I could not agree more! I like your internal combustion analogy – every year old engines wear out and new ones take their place, just like with us.

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  6. I’m anxiously waiting for the next big tech thing. After growing up in an analogue world that went digital, and then going from a tangled nest of cables to being blissfully wireless… I fear that 2020 might only be remembered as another year of the drum roll which started some time around 2015.

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  7. That was good JP….certainly relatable as we are all wondering the same thing, but now that Jetsons song is stuck in my head. Before I retired I was starting to feel like a dinosaur. One of my new 20ish assistants looked at my license one day, which was hanging on the wall with it’s 40 annual green stickers on it, and her mouth fell open in shock. Honestly, the look on her face was priceless. I guess she didn’t realize I was that old. But time marches on. The Sugar Pops remind me I should have added try Pop Tarts to my list of 2020 resolutions, before that box in the pantry expires.

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    • 40 green stickers on a certificate sounds impressive. Do you have to retire when you run out of free space? 😀

      And I think Pop-Tarts are immune from mundane things like “freshness dates”.

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      • I did worry about that, but managed to squeeze the last sticker on in the last possible space before I retired. The PopTarts expire June 2020…..so I have a few months to conquer my fear of sprinkles….

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  8. I prefer Cap’n Crunch myself. The cashiers must think I am buying cereal for my kids/grandkids. Nope sorry, it’s all mine.

    I remember picking up my shiny new 1985 Plymouth Reliant (an SE no less) not that long ago. I remember buying my 1987 Plymouth Voyager clearly, when it was about a year old. So fast forward to 2020, where are all the hover boards, trash eating flying cars, and Grays Sports Almanacs that we have to get back from Biff. At least the Cubs won the World series, they were only off by a year.

    At our age comes the realization that there is less time left on this earth than what we have enjoyed already. Maybe only another third to go. Nonetheless we press on, viewing our offspring as they try to avoid making the same mistakes we made. Unfortunately my sons cannot afford to buy the same house we lived in when they were born, on their current salaries, as I was able to. This generation is the first, in some time, as they say, with lowered expectations, than what we experienced.

    I hope this year brings peace, but it appears that is unlikely. I hope it brings unity, but the opposite may be more probable. I would love to anticipate a consensus on climate change, much as that remains a debate topic.

    I wish you well this year Jim, to you and your family.

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    • Thanks for the new year wishes. Yes, I bought a shiny new car in 1985 that I remember quite well – a Volkswagen GTI.

      But I have to disagree on the Capn Crunch. Mrs JPC has a weakness for that stuff but I don’t think it’s much good for anything but grinding the surface from the roof of your mouth.

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  9. 2020, sheesh. I’ve never recovered from 2000, because in grade 3 math I had to figure out how old I would be in 2000. 33! Can you imagine! Now that was 20 years ago, I can’t believe it.

    At least we’re in this together. Happy New Year and best wishes all.

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    • Yes, I remember finding it hilarious in the early 70s that I would be 41 in 2000. One foot in the grave, good for nothing but drinking beer in front of the TV. But 41 sounds pretty good right now. 🤔

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  10. You want bad 2020 puns? In February, 2019, I wrote a post titled “2020 Foresight: Looking Beyond Our Dysfunctional Government.” This show of precocity may just rival my being the first “kid” in my crowd—many a decade older— to have cataracts removed. My parents were REALLY old when they had that procedure.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your musings and those of others. Time does seem to pass more quickly as we age. I wish this decade weren’t dawning with Australia on fire and warnings of new violence in many places on the globe.

    On the lighter side, I recall the words of a friend when he’d reached his fiftieth birthday some years back: “What’ll I do now that a quarter of my life is gone?”

    May we somehow find our way to peace and unity—both nationally and globally.

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      • Actually, because I was so myopic, the cataract surgery was a terrific improvement. Quick surgery with easy recovery. I have monovision—one eye sees near; the other far—and the brain fuses the views seamlessly. Result: I can read the tiniest print without glasses and need glasses only for driving at night.

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