An Exception To The Rule

“Situations get fucked up, but turned around, sooner or later.”

While my love for Elliott Smith has faded somewhat since the early 2000s, that one line from “Say Yes” is something that returns to my head on a regular basis, it seems. When I first heard it, it was something that instinctively seemed true in large part because I was particularly optimistic and given to magical thinking at the time, so of course the universe would solve things and reward good people, right…?

This past year, though, it’s been particularly difficult to think along similar lines. 2020 has been almost supernaturally cruel, as if everyone were living in a horror movie where the slasher was the entire calendar year itself, out to demolish our self-esteem if not just kill us outright. There’s been disease and disaster, protests and police riots, layoffs and financial collapses, with the world playing out as if we all stepped into a Previously on… recap at the opening of Years and Years season 2 by mistake. We got the “situations get fucked up” part, but where’s the “turn around”?

(Sometimes I wonder just how much more frantic I’d feel were I in the U.K., where Brexit is still happening at the end of this year, but then my brain forces me to think of something better before it just shuts down involuntarily. I can’t really blame it, considering.)

As things tend to, though, there are signs that things might be changing in small and big ways towards the end of the year, and… perhaps… improving…? I’m almost actively fighting against optimism at this point, however. It’s too close to an election where I’m grimly convinced shenanigans will prevail, and I’ve gone through more than enough “hopes get dashed at the last minute” experiences in the last few months to be too nervous to expect anything else, thankyouverymuch.

The end result is, the Elliott Smith lyric now feels curiously, frustratingly naive, the product of more innocent times that probably never existed in the first place. I hate that; I hate to find myself that cynical, and I find myself wishing that, if and when things do improve in the short term, then one of the first things to recover is my sense of hope, however un-earned and childlike it may be.

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