Welcome 2020 – Reconciling and Embracing Past, Present, and Future!

I was putting away the Christmas china the other day – those mistletoe decorated plates, cups and saucers reserved for the Christmas dinner I host every year for family and friends. It hit me with a wave of nostalgia just how much life had changed as I carefully wrapped each piece in the same newspaper I’d been using as protective padding for years – newspaper dated December 31, 1994 – a quarter-century old.

Dinners once heavily laden with meats and starchy potatoes are now primarily vegetarian or salad based, and newspapers, once stacked high in various spots in my home are nearly non-existent with most of my news gathering done via the internet or television; the exception the weekly neighborhood news flyers that are immediately relegated to liners underneath litterboxes, not even opened to read.

I miss newspapers – I miss the smell of them, the feel of them, and most especially, the comics. But even as I say that I don’t have time to read them any longer, which I think is the case for many of us, hence the near demise of an institution that was once a thriving cornerstone of our great country. Not to mention, we are so impatient as a society now – our computers and phones give us instantaneous information – unlike a newspaper that has to be published and printed before it even hits our door, by which time the news has already been tweeted, posted, and shared by millions without a second thought to an industry that is nearly extinct as a result.

I also find I’m exhausted by the deluge of news. It’s too much. Yes, years ago we still had issues with crime, various abuses, political controversy and more, but it wasn’t in your face nearly 24/7 and I must sadly admit I’ve conditioned myself to relegate much of it all to background noise; rather concentrating my time on efforts devoted almost entirely to cat-related issues and endeavors.

Christmas also brought other waves of nostalgia when we took out some old photo albums to reminiscence after dinner. By virtue of time, they are already old. The last photo ever taken and put into an album was from 2008 (a decidedly unglamorous photo of plastic pipes for our swimming pool pump for an outdoor renovation we were doing) with our memories now conveniently tucked on our phones, computers, and every social media site you can think of so the whole world can see a picture of Fluffy, as opposed to only those privileged to see one’s photo albums.

While I miss photo albums – the trips down memory lane are indisputably lovely as family members gather to discuss ancient times – I do have to admit digital photos have their upside, notwithstanding the lack of charm scrolling a computer or phone screen has versus the physical act of turning the weathered pages of a dog-eared (or cat-eared) photo album, binding spilt open and frayed, pages with yellowed corners, protective film lose; with the majority of photos unlabeled or dated, so nobody knows the who, what, where’s and when’s, other than through a fuzzy memory bank.

A massive wall of paper memories crowns my office – books, manuscripts, photo albums, and even some ancient CDs that have been replaced by the convenience of my Amazon Alexa.

But photos back then were coveted and not something you’d flippantly delete into a virtual trashcan – you took a photo and you kept it. After all, you had to pay for the film and take the time to have it developed and either mailed to you, or picked up at the drug store, not knowing what the contents would contain, but almost guaranteed to have several photos that were either blurry, had people’s face’s or body parts cut off, or of random non-descript blobs because you accidentally took a picture while you were trying to focus on something else. Or those great red-eye photos, or those wonderful pictures of a deer in the yard that is so hard to discern because the camera did not have a zoom, so all you see in the picture is a tiny, black fleck. It might have been a deer. Or a dog. Or Aunt Sue for that matter.

So, truly, unless you were a professional photographer, which most of us like me, were not, we have albums filled with primarily awful pictures by today’s standards, but still lovely to the mind’s eye of memories. I do love the awful pictures, but nothing beats a digital photo. After all, you can take hundreds until you get the one you want. You can enhance them with lovely filters, turning them into spectacular works of art, eyes clear and bright, and best of all, you can Photoshop all sorts of fun things on them. My favorite subject, of course, is my cats who star daily in a parade of Photoshop assisted memes, quotes, and the like.

Current photos are also a marvel of action. Post a picture for a cause or to educate or inform and it can reach millions of followers in the blink of an eye. Cats can become adopted; mass audiences can learn the importance of spay/neuter and so much more. The good old days were good, but never that good and some things should be embraced for what they can do, rather than lament what once was.

Every generation has what they initially consider new, gasp-worthy technologies, or hurdles, circumstances, or injustices to overcome. Back in the early ’60s when I was young, my late great-grandma balked at technology, not comprehending the evil box in her living room in which people spoke from a screen. She felt it morally improper for us to watch television wearing our pajamas, convinced if we could see people on TV, they could see us back.

I shudder to think of her reaction to our current world in which we can tell an object to play songs or open our garage door. Or phones that can see us when we talk to one another. I admittedly backed away when iPhones first came out, not wanting such a powerful device in my possession, but now I can’t imagine living without it. Not only does it keep me connected to work responsibilities, but it keeps me connected on a nearly daily basis to my family, many of whom live far from me. We share chats, and texts, and pictures and it’s such a wonderful way to feel a part of their lives.

Photo: Jazmine from Zee & Zoey’s Cat Chronicles and Makin’ Biscuits.

I also didn’t want to be on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or the legions of other social media sites that now seem to rule my life and I’ll admit sometimes I do yearn for days back when life seemed simpler and I wasn’t constantly at the beck and call of technology. But truthfully, I’ve made some amazing friends as a result of social media and it’s also changed my life for the betterment of cat welfare, a cause I’m deeply passionate about. And I don’t like to dwell on the past or coin years ago as the good old days. The good old days had plenty of bad days for me, as I’m sure they did for many.

I like the me of today much better than the me I was when I was younger and that’s the result of embracing the world around me, challenging myself, allowing myself to be imperfect, and allowing myself the luxury of knowing the only one in control of my destiny, is me.

Time has given me the perspective of what true beauty is, something I could not comprehend when I was younger.

I’m also deeply grateful we live in a much more tolerant world. My son and his partner married in June of 2019 and have plans in the future to adopt. It pains me to think had he grown up in a different time that he’d be outcast just for loving someone of the same sex. We’re not a perfect world, but we are becoming more woke to social injustice, gender inequities, political incorrectness, racism, and more.

One of the happiest moments of my life – being part of my son Chris’s wedding to his partner, Jason, this past June.

And much of the simpler times I yearn for, could be mine if I’d just step back a bit because a lot of the stress of today is my own doing. It’s not going to happen immediately, but I do plan on cutting back on the hectic frenzy of social media, emails, and volunteer responsibilities to concentrate and enjoy more of life around me – my friends, my family, potential grandchildren, my cats, some gardening, outdoor walks, some crafting projects, and just the simple pleasures of doing nothing other than reading a newspaper with a cat curled on my lap. Maybe write another book one of these days, but nothing pressing. I might even venture outside my comfort zone and meet some of my actual neighbors and socialize with them, rather than primarly socializing with people in cyberspace like I do now. 

As another year descends on us, bright with possibilities anew, one thing never changes as time passes – life is fleeting, and nothing should be taken for granted. We have but one life, and as Joel Osteen said, “Don’t focus on the good old days, look forward towards the good NEW days.”

Zee is our senior cat, but even to this day, he looks at life with a spring to his step and joy in the moment.

Happy New Year everyone! Thank you all for your love, support, and companionship over the years! I wish you all the best and look forward to all we have in store in the days to come and remember, you can think of life lived in terms of one day, or as I prefer, day one. It’s up to you…

Photo: Shadow from Zee & Zoey’s Cat Chronicles

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  1. Jo Singer says:

    I loved this post! It is outstanding!!

    A new year, a new decade and, and an amazing opportunity to begin looking at things differently – perhaps from a new and clearer perspective since 20/20 vision is considered perfect. Could it be possible that 2020 may bring us greater clarity?

    Happy Mew year! and lots of love…

  2. It’s hard to balance work, love…and cats!
    So many of my family and friends are now retired, but I have years to go yet. That adds a weird strain to things, but then I look at what I have, and how I am content, and that stress falls away.
    Hugs and purrs to you all!

  3. jmuhj says:

    Wonderful thoughts and pix, Deb and fams, and thank you! I never took a newspaper, though I’ve been in the news business. And I agree 100% with the fact that you can use social media for good in ways you could never use snailmail. Life is always challenging and I, too, push back against the onslaught of 24/7-365 media barrages, especially all the negatve and fake news. But life is what you make of it.
    We have gained roommates this year! And while my social/online activity remains constant, we now have non-virtual relationships once again, on a daily basis, with people whose talents and personalities compliment mine and combine with mine to make a more harmonious and well-functioning environment for all, feline and human alike.
    Happy 2020, all!

  4. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, Deb.

  5. Beautiful post ! Happy New Year ! Purrs

  6. What a great post!
    Happy New Year and 2020 to you!

  7. Edith Chase says:

    Happy New Year!

  8. Ellen Pilch says:

    Great post! Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy 2020! XO

  9. Bernadette says:

    Oh, that simultaneous reluctance and embracing are exactly it! I tune out each day for my creative time during my most creative time of day for artwork and writing, but outside of that cats need to be rescued, friends and family say “hello”, social and professional groups have fascinating conversations and there’s always the news. I just wish my mother had lived to enjoy the easy access to all this information; she was always surrounded by her almanacs and encyclopedias and TV and movie reference books. She just caught the very beginning of it and the access to the information got her past her dislike of computers. Happy New Year! And many more!

  10. meowmeowmans says:

    Happy New Year, sweet pals! We hope your 2020 is filled with love and joy!

  11. Andrea Dorn says:

    Happy New Year everyone. I love this post. I am one who looks back too much. I’m stuck in the past but the present is pretty trying. I keep hoping though.

  12. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. We love the past ways of doing things cause now things are changing at such a fast pace. We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a very Happy New Year. Have a great weekend and hope 2020 is just terrific.