There is a kind of brand that only communicates the new—the now—the promise of an almost-here future. Then there is another communication that only sees the tried and true—the traditional—the ever-exalted past.
Products, brands and people grab—and keep
—our attention for the same reason: they embody an archetype. Perhaps it should be no surprise to experience the truth lies somewhere in between these parallel preferences, yet a reminder hits like an epiphany: we realize in a moment of crisis, these are the same kinds of expressions. An archetype or idea that only looks forward is functionally serving the same purpose as that which only looks over its shoulder: both of them stop us from staring too deeply into this present moment.
As I was celebrating the end of the year with my family and thinking about the last 12 months, I paused to recognize that I was not just overwhelmed at the prospect of summarizing an unprecedented year: I was overcome by the feeling of remembering itself.
Recalling 2020 is to bundle too many shades of pain. I have grieved collectively and privately; I have mourned openly and in secret; I have counted seconds that passed slowly as weeks and months that felt like hours. This year sometimes feels like it has been lost, but that is not quite the whole truth. This year has been taken from me.
How, then, to account for the sweeping scale of so much hurt?
Twenty-twenty has been tough for everyone and we all hope that the future will be better. In western society, we think that just by naming the word “future” this will be automatically a remedy for the evils of the present or the mistakes of the past. We celebrate the coming year or the closest tomorrow thinking that this will absolve us of our greed, responsibility, laziness, and fear.
What, then, can we say will be next?
I wouldn’t be so callous as to say wait and see, but maybe I would say we are ready to pause and consider.
The current epoch floats in a sea uninfluenced by logic, one so large that it almost cannot be seen. No longer is there distinction between comedy shows and political reality, fake news and real news, pop culture or counter culture.
The future will be both better and worse than we hope.
Like it or not, this is the bittersweet taste of life that we have shaped for too long for words like inequity, progress, materialism, success, free market or normality.
We will not go back to “normality” because it never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal. We should not long to return.
After such an eventful 2020 we are being given the opportunity to stitch a new archetype, one that fits all of humanity and nature.