In the year that has been 2020, I‘m sure I am not the first person to have uttered the old phrase…”may you live in interesting times.” Well, I am pretty sure we can all agree that right now, we certainly do. From working from home and holding ZOOM meetings and online doctor video appointments, to strange metallic “monoliths” popping up both here and abroad, to Murder Hornets, and even The Pentagon releasing U.F.O. video footage taken by the U.S. Navy! Yes, these are interesting times indeed.
Without question, this year has been filled with one seemingly bizarre, head shaking event after another. We started with COVID-19 in the earlier part of the year, and even now the virus which has caused so much suffering to so many, and in so many ways, simply refuses to go away. This of course led to most of us wearing some sort of face covering everywhere outside the house, dousing ourselves with hand sanitizer after touching any foreign object, and causing some to publicly freak out whenever a stranger coughs or sneezes anywhere within a two mile radius. Although I must admit, it has been an interesting study, seeing everyone’s personal preferences in COVID facial wear. Whether they be cloth masks, paper masks, gaiters, bandanas, or even face shields, we have witnessed an entirely new face covering industry emerge that we never knew we needed. Who saw that one coming?
From there we slid into a new “summer of discontent.” Like you, I watched many protests around the country turn from peaceful to full blown riots, complete with the obligatory burned out cars, buildings, tear gas and then some. Now, whether you agree or disagree with the protesters, you cannot ignore the impact they had on our society, as well as several businesses. But in the spirit of the holidays, it’s probably best to leave this subject right here.
Next, we found ourselves stumbling into the presidential election, which lead to us having to choose between…well, let’s just say we had some choices to make for our nation. And for better or for worse, being on one side or the other of the political spectrum caused friends and families to distance themselves even further from one another in an already bizarre “socially distanced” new world. I believe between COVID and the election, Thanksgiving tables around the country were probably a little quieter this year. Besides, according to the CDC, we weren’t supposed to speak loudly or sing around others anyway.
And now scrolling through the social media sites, it’s obvious to most that at this point, we should probably be ready for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that could potentially come our way. In fact, I don’t believe that reading a news story announcing the existence of extraterrestrial beings, Big Foot, The Loch Ness Monster, or even Chupacabras would be too much of a stretch for our imagination these days. So now that you’re (hopefully) ready, let’s examine what you might believe is the old Chinese saying, which I have borrowed as the title of this blog post…”may you live in interesting times.”
In what could only be excused as a serious case of the “Mandela Effect,” I discovered that the time tested phrase has no origins in China whatsoever! In fact, according to the website; phrases.org.uk (the phrase finder)…'May you live in interesting times' is widely reported as being of ancient Chinese origin but is neither Chinese nor ancient, being recent and western. It certainly seems to have been intended to sound oriental, in the faux-Chinese 'Confucius he say' style, but that's as near to China as it actually gets.
The phrase was introduced in the 20th century in the form 'interesting age' rather than 'interesting times' and appears that way in the opening remarks made by Frederic R. Coudert at the Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science,[in] 1939.
So there it is! Proof, that in a year that has wrecked so many things that we thought we knew and believed, it turns out we now live in a new world that makes us question everything! Heck, if we can’t even believe the origins of old phrases that we have heard most of our lives, what can we believe in? Did we really go to the Moon? Did Oswald kill JFK? Do you pronounce that place in the Atlantic Ocean, the Ca-rib-be-in or is it, Cara-bee-in? And don’t even get me started on the whole Milli Vanilli drama of the 1980’s… I can’t even go there. All I know is that in days like these, we need to take a big step back and review things we do know are fact. We know that when we are in a hurry to get somewhere in the car, we will discover that we need to stop to get gas. We know that at some point the auto correct feature on our cell phones will fail us and insert the wrong word during an important text message. And of course we have finally come to realization of the fact that we will never really rid ourselves of seeing the Kardashians someplace in the media.
But as we close out the year that will “live in infamy,” there are still a few more things that we know are indeed fact, things that will carry us into the hopeful New Year. Things I will go to my grave believing. And they are…we know that we will always love our children unconditionally. We know (that at least in our near future) the sun will continue to rise in the east. We know that we love our pets like family members. We know that through tragedy, new heroes will emerge. We know that no matter how bleak times may seem, there will always be hope for a better tomorrow, no matter how “interesting” the times we live in.
Thank you for reading. Be well, stay safe and as always…I’ll see you in the groves.