What I Learned in This Year of Madness

Bert Rock
3 min readJan 1, 2021

by Bert Rock


In years to come those four digits will become a slur, a curse, an excuse, an utterance of camaraderie or a begrudged toast. It will be a call back to a time like no other.

2020 was a year of madness the world over. It was a year of fire.

No life was untouched. Some got burned more than others, but we all felt the flame. Race riots, militias, quarantines, and lockdowns for a plague killing hundreds of thousands of people and a country set on fire by the man elected to protect it. What a fucking year.

When one looks back at this time they can add, “ In a pandemic,” to everything they say.

“I went to work…in a pandemic,

I went to school…in a pandemic,

I cared for family, I wrote a book, I traveled, I parented, I taught, I loved, I lost, I dealt with pain, extreme back pain and heart pain and the pain of past-trauma-while-living-through-a-fresh-new-national trauma, a worldwide trauma where the numbers of dead kept climbing and climbing.

I grew in a pandemic.”

I survived.

We did it all while our country was at war with itself and our president told us to drink bleach.

Take that ‘Greatest Generation.’

“2020.” Drop the mic.

What will we say years from now?

2020 is perfect vision, 2020 is hindsight, knowing now what you did not know then.

What did we learn?

I’d say we learned that human beings are weaker than we thought, but that we’re also stronger.

We found out a lot about ourselves. We learned about our frailties, our strengths, and we learned a lot about our vices.

Maybe the most important thing we learned, was who our true friends were.

Despite all the rage, fear, sorrow, and hate that inundated our daily lives, I learned that 2020 is the year when I loved more than I have ever loved before…

I told stories to a 5-year-old, every single day.

I have never made up so much on the spot in my life as I did for him. In the summer, at the pool while cities were on fire we floated and looked at the shapes clouds could make. Or we were fighting sea monsters in the deep sea, or we were the sea monsters. We were superheroes, and supervillains, we were pirates searching for sunken treasure. We went on walks and searched for the perfect stick to be a sword, or rocks that could be valuable gems. Every day was a quest, every walk an adventure.

There really is magic in the world. It’s in the expression on that 5-year-old boy’s face when he says, “You gave me an idea!”

I do not know what he will recall years from now when he looks back on this time, the time he knows as, “The Sickness.” Perhaps those stories helped to keep the wolves of fear at bay, for all that was going on in the world around us.

I thought the stories I told would help protect him from the world and all that was happening,

But it was he who saved me.

Originally published at https://bertrock.com on January 1, 2021.



Bert Rock

Arizona writer of fantasy fiction, children’s literature, poetry, and more. Black Lives Matter! Mental Health matters! www.bertrock.com, follow @BertRock1