Writer: Haytham Malik
Editor: Maria Stoica
Photography: Lola Artiles
At its outset, 2021 was hailed as a time of re-emergence. 2020 had set the initial bar low, so logically, whatever followed in the next 365 days would set the tone for the Roaring Twenties. With a promising vaccine rollout and fresh stock of optimism, it seemed a frightening period of our lives was over. But, instead, this year was marked by a slightly manic quality. Our expectations for a period of relative normalcy were sidelined as our world was greenlit for a second season of Hieronymous Bosch-style pandemonium. Cue new variants of concern, political incompetence adding more insult to injury, UFO sightings, Bennifer’s reunion, hybrid workplaces, the reprise of toilet paper shortages underscored by the accelerated pace of species extinction, global deforestation, deepening social divides, the collective recovery from complex grief, and a pandemic ennui repeatedly testing our patience.
For all its dysfunctions and shocks, 2021 was a year peppered with many firsts: the first transplant of both arms and shoulders for an amputee, NASA’s Perseverance collecting the first piece of Martian rock, the first meeting between a pope and a grand ayatollah (and the start of good joke), scientists announcing that they successfully injected human stem cells into the embryos of monkeys, creating chimera-embryos (I’ve read enough sci-fi to know what follows in this second act), SpaceX launching the first all-civilian space flight, online currencies booming, and owning a Bored Ape NFT is now parallel to possessing a Picasso. So, 2021 has been an iconic year.
After our moment of pandemic in-betweenness, what’s next for us in 2022? At times like these my meliorism insists that, we try for a better world, and I want to encourage people to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To throw caution to the wind and live with risk. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To accept the challenge. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fair and private place, but none embrace these moments there. Nor do they write there, or dance the tango, or argue, or dive the great barrier reef, or make history. And that’s what there is to do in 2022. Get after it while you can, keep living forward, and good luck at it.