Almanac Life: A Short Note to 2020.


I want to say something to 2020 before she is gone. I want to say good riddance. I want to say that your insidious cackling at the world’s tumultuous struggles is maddening. What joy did you take out of this past twelve months? Was it just schadenfreude pure and simple?


I want to ask you about this virus. Was it by design? Is it a shot across our bow? Or is it simply the inevitable result of a biological concoction where humanity and nature are so cloistered together that neither has room to breathe and the organisms of each become inter-twined and tangled and eventually mangled into a hideous disease? Or perhaps the virus is a mere symptom of a greater disease. The infection that is part of the cancer?


I watched as sport faltered and stopped during 2020, then re-commenced but in a different shape. It was as if the actor left the stage and returned in a new costume. The administrators of sport were praised for their determination and resilience to proceed (and rightly so). They ran their seasons (mostly) and found the premier and someone got to hold the cup aloft. But it was all rather contorted. Off-kilter. It was like watching the acrobat on the high stilts struggling with one stilt shorter than the other. The show went on albeit with a touch of absurdity. Football games were made shorter so that they may last longer. Players were locked down into hubs as if it were something unusual. Haven’t they been locked away in hubs anyway in recent years? Hubs we still call clubs? The more popular the game becomes the higher the walls around it. 2020 confirmed that.


The AFL grand final was played in a parallel universe. Ablett broke his shoulder. I heard you giggle 2020, when that happened. You sucked romance out of the game like an ear is flushed of wax. You replaced hope for Geelong supporters with optimism. But optimism is hope with no clothes on. Optimism, says Anthony Esolen, is ‘grinning and gold-toothed’. But Geelong supporters had nothing else. The game was played in a foreign land with tropical downpours and weeping lillypillys, not wispy Melbourne rain showers, grey winter skies and towering oaks. Our boys worked hard and crashed into their opponents but, 2020, you would have none of it. We were dispatched.


I want to ask you, 2020, if you really considered everything? Did you not see the lights that shone through the darkness as you forced entire communities indoors? Did you not see families having breakfast, lunch and dinner together in their forced incarceration? Yes, 2020, we got under your skin a little bit. When my daughter brought me a cup of coffee every morning as I laboured in the front room of the house, I mocked you. Yes I mocked you because this daily moment of joy only occurred due to the forced separation from neighbours and work colleagues and in so doing brought my family together. You failed. You made me re-think this ceaseless working for works sake. The coffee was my daily highlight not the work. The smile on Kate’s face when I tasted the coffee and gave her the thumbs up was the gift of the day. It was the gift of every day.

So, 2020, I simultaneously despise your narrative but offer some level of thanks. I despise you for the lives you took, for the flippancy with which you treated the vulnerable. But I thank you for helping me reconsider this time I have. You made me realise that, as Gustave Flaubert wrote many years ago, “the worship of the belly ……….engenders wind”.


I will enter 2021 not with optimism but with hope.



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About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Kevin Densley says

    Inimitable and thought-provoking, Dips!

  2. Thanks Kevin.

    Look forward to more of your poems and thoughts in 2021.

  3. Beautiful Dips. Accountancy’s loss is philosophy’s gain.
    Remind me again – do the debits go near the window or the door?
    In 2020 the world’s deferred liabilities caught up with us. I reckon I’m old enough to live through the trial but not see the final judgement.

  4. Ha! Love it PB! The debits and credits go where ever you want them to these days. But when I first did accounting in year eleven the debits were window side.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Dips, love you mocking 2020. It’s what it deserves.

    All the best to the O’Donnell’s for 2021, may the coffee be plentiful.

  6. Cheers Luke and to the Reynolds as well. By the looks of things it may all be starting again!

  7. Daryl Schramm says

    Nice read Damian. Its been since the end of Feb when the outcomes from the actions of earlier months reared their heads. Makes me wonder if we have another couple of months of grief coming our way. There were a few good things that happened in my world early and during 2020. I know I am one of the lucky ones though, as the majority have been deeply affected one way or another. I did mention 8 months ago that hopefully some good will come out of all this. I’m not sure the politics (world wide) will allow it though. All the best to all readers.

  8. Hope is the best we can ask for, I guess.
    Thanks, Dips

  9. roger lowrey says

    Never picked you as a Flaubert aficionado Dips.

    You know, I mean, where does the bloody weighted average cost of capital appear in Madame Bovary FFS?

    Great yarn nonetheless. Go Cats in 2021!


  10. Just love the quote Roger.

    The weighted average cost of capital is something I recall reading at Melb Uni in 1982??

  11. Your comment about hub life for clubs is interesting Dips . Ironically were they better prepared for it than the rest of the community ? Although in vastly different circumstances (luxury accomodation, poolside etc) to the rest of the community. How much hubbing is healthy/ bearable ? We shall see what 2021 brings.
    Good luck to all of us . We are in for another turbulent ride I would say.

  12. Dips thought provoking – weird prick of a year as we all know-Go Kate ! ( time for another,Kate story,Dips ! )

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