Opinion: Brutal. Freaking. Year.

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By Billy Fried

Going into it I thought 2020 was going to be the “Year of Perfect Vision.” That something marvelous might take place. Now I’m so ready for 2021. Whatever it takes to safely go out and hug again. And I was never that into hugging. If this virus taught us anything, it’s that we need physical connection—because we are all profoundly connected.

I’m so done with the division, anger and fear. Even the extraterrestrials won’t visit.  Haim Eshed, a respected former Israeli space security chief, said recently that earthlings have been in contact with extraterrestrials from a “galactic federation.” But they have not come forward because, “humanity isn’t ready.”

Of course we’re not. We’re a shambles. Look at our leaders. Look how we fight over manufactured belief systems, worship false idols (money, arms), devalue truth, and desecrate the planet. If we ever want these advanced civilizations’ teachings, we have to demonstrate we are a loving, compassionate, intellectually curious species that knows how to run a planet. Or even a little seaside village.

So let’s start 2021 by watering our human garden here in Laguna. As James Taylor sang, “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel. Things are gonna work out fine if you only will.” So, Toni Iseman and Peter Blake, come on, bring it in you two. Hold on tight. Look deeply into each other’s eyes and say hello to yourselves. You both have a shared and fevered commitment to make this town better. And by the way, it’s OK to cry. Michael Ray and Village Laguna? How about a love mob, where the “Village people” surround Mike, then press in for a prolonged group hug. How could they resist each other after that? Kelly Boyd and Steve Dicterow? Turn on “Soul Train” and do a line dance together. It’s the best medicine.

Finally, you two bickering billionaires, Bill Gross and Mark Towfiq—fellas, you’re living a fully charmed life on the beach in Laguna, yet you’re sitting in a windowless courtroom in Santa Ana. Instead of blaring “Gilligan’s Island” every night, how about you kooky couples greet each other every morning with a smile, a wave, and a group rendition of Gordon MacRae’s, “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going our way.” Then post it on TikTok.

Yes 2021 (mid, or maybe even late—let’s be real) will be a time of healing and cautious revelry. No more Covid elbows. We can shake hands, bop, high five, low five, and ride an elevator without terror. Let’s love up on each other again. In a more measured way, of course. Because while there will finally be live music again, will you ever feel the same way about being sandwiched in a swarming heap of spittle spraying humanity?

Just marinate on how many things will be better post-Covid. Through the advent of online courses, we now have the ability to become “long life” learners. Not just finish with grad school, but continue down any path that fits our prism of interests. UC Irvine Is one of the schools collaborating on a new concept called The 60 Year Curriculum, disrupting traditional, linear education with long life learning opportunities. They’ve even expanded their degree programs for inmates, meaning there will be more opportunities post incarceration, and less recidivism. That’s real prison reform.

And despite the trauma inflicted on children everywhere from this isolation and masking of facial (and human) recognition, can we at least hope this sobering event will give them resilience, perspective, and meaningful purpose long missing from our intoxicated state of hedonism?

Despite the many horrors, we can also be grateful for the pause to re-think our lives. How we work, play, eat, love, travel, and perhaps spend the rest of our days. With more awareness, kindness, and pauses to savor the miracle of life. We just had a year of our lives stolen from us. So let’s make the next one doubly good and call it a draw.

Billy Fried hosts “Laguna Talks,” Thursdays at 8pm on KXFM radio.

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