The Age of Uncertainty
Where do you see yourself in five years? It’s one of the most commonplace questions in job interviews, but I’m pretty sure nobody whoanswered that question in 2015 got the right answer. I know for damn sure that 2015 Aaron didn’t say that he would be in Europe, going into lockdown due to a global plague, while watching from afar as the United States teeters on the brink of a second Civil War, but here we are.
Someone once said that life is what happens while you are making other plans. 2020 has certainly been the epitome of that statement. I had so many plans this year. This was going to be such a fun year for me. I was going to finally cross Marrakesh off my bucket list this summer. I was going to Bali and Bangkok for Christmas and New Year’s. I was going to work at least ten camps, including some theatre camps. In between all that, I had the nonstop party that is Berlin to keep me entertained. But then life happened. With Miss Rona out in these streets, suddenly, all my plans went up in flames. I’m not risking a long flight until the pandemic is under control, so international travel is off the table for me for at least the next year. Besides, after they closed the schools in March, effectively eliminating my teaching income and cancelled most of my camps for the year, I wouldn’t have any way to pay for a trip, anyway. As for the rest of the camps, I got to do three of them, and one ended with me in quarantine after being exposed to a coworker who was positive. My rollicking social life also evaporated overnight. In March they closed the bars and clubs, so instead of regularly stumbling home at dawn, I was basically stuck at home for a good chunk of the year. To say that 2020 has not gone according to plan could possibly be the understatement of the year.
I miss being able to make plans. Remember making plans? When you decided you were going to do something in the future, and you knew without a shadow of a doubt that you would do that thing on that particular day and time? Sadly, those days are gone. This is the dawning of the Age of Uncertainty. Who am I kidding? That era started in March, and it doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon. Everything has a question mark behind it right now. Hell, I can’t even count on my teaching schedule to be consistent. As a freelance teacher, this is a juggling act in a normal year, but 2020 has taken it to a whole other level- and I’m not that good at juggling. At the moment I work with three different companies and putting together a working schedule has been a herculean effort. When they reopened the schools in August, not all of them opened completely, so I have some classes that I am booked for, but the schools aren’t allowing outsiders in, so they have been postponed. Some of them have been postponed indefinitely. Meanwhile, I still have to keep those time slots open, waiting for the possibility that we can come back. Other schools have outright cancelled. Still others have rules against mixing kids from different classes, so I have to adjust my classes to make that work. And as Berlin’s COVID numbers climb, I never know when I will get an email saying that my classes at a particular school are cancelled. I have no idea from week to week exactly what my schedule is going to look like, or if they are just going to close the schools altogether.
In addition to that personal feeling of chaos and insecurity, there’s also the uncertainty that we as Americans have been living with since November of 2016. I remember when that dark cloud descended. (Y’all know exactly what I’m talking about. Don’t make me say his name). At first, all we had was speculation. We had our worst fears. Would he attack LGBT rights? Muslims? Immigrants? POC? Little did we know that he could do all these things and more. He came bucking out of the gate with his Muslim ban, and it’s been full speed chaos ever since. Over the last four years, he has attacked pretty much everyone except Putin and the KKK. Hell, he even attacked the environment, rolling back everything from water safety regulations to endangered wildlife protections. Not only that, but he managed to turn the daily news cycle into such a whirlwind of drama and insanity, Shonda Rhimes had to cancel Scandal, because nothing she could write could be as outlandish and insane as what this White House could crank out on a daily basis. And to top it all off, he had the nerve to tweet about it. Constantly. In fact, on June 6th of this year, he broke his own record by sending over 200 tweets in one day. Speaking of which, remember when he almost started a war with Iran via Twitter? With this guy in charge, it’s no wonder that most of us wake up every morning saying, “What now?!?!?!” Sure, the non-stop twists and turns make for exciting television, but it does nothing for one’s ability to sleep at night.
A presidency shouldn’t feel like Mad Max. Nobody wants to be kept on the edge of their seat for four years. It should be like an episode of Matlock. It should be comfortable and cozy, and you should be able to doze off in the middle of it, confident that everything will work out in the end. But here we are, on the night before the election, full of adrenaline and existential dread, clutching our armrests with all our might after just finishing what must be the worst installment of the series to date, hoping that instead of a sequel, tomorrow will give us a Matlock/Murder She Wrote marathon, the kind that makes you want to curl up in a fuzzy blanket for a while. Whatever tomorrow brings, I hope it brings back certainty…Unless that certainty involves a Thunderdome. I really don’t wanna see myself there in five years.