So, it’s my birthday.
Thank you. No, that’s not why I mention it.
This is yet another of the meaningless non-round number birthdays that kind of marks most of life. Sixteen is a big deal, because of the driver’s license; 18 is a big deal because of ‘adulting;’ 21, drinking; 25, your car insurance goes down; and, of course, 40, 50… all the ones that justify sore shoulders and tight backs and reading glasses.
But 53? That’s a nothing number. As my brother likes to quip, “just marks another lap around the sun.”
Which begs the question: does the time matter? Well, I suppose it depends on what happened in that time. What will I remember of the last year?
A contentious, and rather unsteady transfer of power in this country. No—remember, that all happened back in January. I’m talking about the process of the people, of municipalities and parent groups, reclaiming the right and responsibility to make health decisions for themselves and their families from bureaucrats and government functionaries. That’s where the real power should lie.
Listen, if you’re scared of COVID—and you have every right to be, say the ghosts of hundreds of thousands of Americans—then boost and mask up and avoid contact with humanity for as long as you want to. That is your right and your responsibility. If you’re not particularly scared of COVID—and you have every right to be, say the hundreds of thousands of people in this country who have gotten it and survived — then go out, have fun, live life. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
If you’re a government functionary who truly, honestly has been doing everything in your power to keep people safe and balancing the multitude of considerations involved in a pandemic, let me offer my heartfelt thanks for your efforts. If you’re a government functionary who has not been honest in your efforts, but has, instead, been acting out of fear of lawsuits or kowtowing to representatives of, shall we say, other groups? Or worse, one of those representatives of other groups acting completely out of self-interest and with no concern for the effects of your efforts on others (Randi something-or-other…), have fun sliding back into obscurity.
This year I saw my son play what, I assume right now, is his last few matches of soccer. It’s been a wonderful ride, and he’s learned invaluable lessons about team, overcoming adversity and the algorithm involving effort and success. Also, I’m a terrible sideline parent. So maybe it’s OK that it’s over.
Obviously, last week has brought a few new reminders. Like, Putin is a bad guy? No, I think we all knew that (or should have [ahem attendees at CPAC]). No, the best part of this past week is that we were all reminded that courage actually matters. The raw courage of Volodymyr Zelenkskyy and the Ukrainian people has been inspiring. But, more than that, that courage, that willingness to stare down an evil aggressor, actually has practical applications. By not capitulating and surrendering in the first 48 hours, Ukraine gave the rest of Europe and the West the opportunity to do the right thing; rather than a weak list of sanctions, they inspired a beefy set of sanctions and military aid, which will actually matter.
Hey, I’m not saying that, by the time you read this, the whole thing won’t have gone sideways in more terrifying ways than we could imagine. I’m just saying that courage is a wonderful thing. And we spend so much time celebrating the kind of posturing courage that shows up on celebrity TikTok that it’s refreshing to see actual courage in action.
I learned that, as much as I love teaching, retirement is definitely my favorite job so far. Is 53 too late to decide what I want to be when I grow up?
Here’s to another trip around the sun.
Michael Alcorn is a former teacher and current writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Valkyrie’s Kiss,” a finalist in the ScreenCraft Book Competition, is available now at email@example.com. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.