A New Decade — Here We Come

Wednesday marked  not just the new year, but a new decade, at least it seems that it is marking the new decade. In truth, 2020 is the last year of the teens—the last year in a series of ten. But there is something nice and round, satisfying pleasant about beginning a decade or century or millennium with a number ending with zero, so that is what we do.

If you are a stickler, you can view this as the last year to get it right, prepare and reshape yourself for the new decade to come. Or you can jump right in with wild declarations and bold plans and good on ya, I say.

I have chosen a hybrid approach, taking this new year as a time of fine-tuning, casting off some worn out ways, adopting some new ones. I think of 2020 as the first year in a fresh decade but it will be a year of transition, too, so I have some practicing to do to get it right before the ’20s begin in earnest.

I spent much of the past eighteen months working on my health, my weight in particular, and I had some small success. Then I went to France. They celebrate food there, and wine, and both are fabulous. I did my best to fit in.

I fit in very well.

It wrecked what small accomplishment I might have made, and over a year later I am trying to get back to the plan that worked for me, sans French bread and cheese, paté and aperol spritzers.

After a lifetime of obligation and work and taking everything very hard, 2020 will see a bit of change in my free time. You would think this is a joyous thing, but trust me when I say, I am not so sure. I enjoy a good gripe, and there is nothing more satisfying than complaining about the terrible constriction of time you are under, to the concerned cooing of caring friends.

It lets you off the hook for the beds being unmade, the vacuum sitting in the middle of the floor, a sink full of dishes. You are an object of pity and concern.

However, be able to go to bed without setting an alarm, have most of the day at your disposal, at least the flexibility to plan as you see fit, and those dishes in the sink — and you — become objects of scorn.

I scorn myself.

A decade yawning before you is a long time and the changes it brings are huge. That two-year old toddler will be twelve at the end of it. A delightful, or more likely, sullen, child working on the perfect combo of sneer and disgust and ennui that every teenager masters. Ten more years and they are grown, facing the world as a newly minted adult, a little fearful but excited.

If you are just starting work and a career, the 2020s will represent one quarter of your work life. Sit with that a minute. Sobering, no? If you are mid-career, the next ten years will represent the time of your most fruitful earning, the time when you arrive, whatever that means.

For some of us, the last of the baby boomers, the new decade will see the end of work and the start of retirement. Some of us will putter around our yards, some of us will putter around Europe, some of us will putter around quietly while the grandchildren sleep.

The decades I passed in my early life came and went without much notice. I didn’t even know what a decade was until I was fourth grade or so. Then time was marked by weeks, with Christmas and birthdays and summer holidays gauzy dreams in a land I couldn’t quite imagine.

Most of my adulthood I made note off decades approaching, made big plans, declared my intentions for self-improvement, career moves, lifestyle changes, and then abandoned most of them in the moment of expediency, practicality, or distraction. We say we want certain things, but the universe doesn’t always agree, and sometimes we are just too tired or bothered to put forth much effort.

I’m wondering, baby boomer that I am, what the next decade will bring, what it will look like, as one kind of work ends and another begins. I am making plans, of course. I have new pens and notebooks to keep track of it. For a month or so, anyway. Let’s get cracking.