“Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” an 1887 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov.

Ok, we all know how crappy 2020 was and that there are still plenty of challenges ahead for us in 2021: it’s safe to say that the impact from the global pandemic will continue to be felt for quite some time to come. I’m not sure we’ll exactly be skipping through the daisies without a care anytime soon (as in the Rackham watercolor I posted as a header to this piece) because the world will certainly be a little bit different than it was when we locked down last March. But at the same time there are definitely signs of hope and optimism as more people are at least partially vaccinated and jobs return. Businesses and restaurants have started to reopen and the empty streets are bustling again with commuters and shoppers; all manner of pre-COVID-19 activities have already resumed (or will soon), even if many people are understandably hesitant to get back into asshole-to-elbow crowds until this pandemic is truly behind us.

Of course, despite all that has happened over the past 13 months, there will continue to be those who won’t get vaccinated, wear masks, or observe social distancing protocols. People are people and not everyone will agree about…pretty much anything. Without question schools and concerts and theaters and museums and sporting events and restaurants and the act of simply getting out and seeing and interacting with other human beings are all incredibly important…but if 2021 is to become our Post Pandemic year (and there are recent warning signs that caution is still needed), we all have to respect others—whether we agree or disagree—and act responsibly, even if acting responsibly isn’t always much fun.

Though there are any number of temptations scheduled in various parts of the country in the coming months, Cathy and I have decided to avoid humongous gatherings and travel—unless we can get there in the car—until early 2022. (Which isn’t exactly a big deal: we were only planning to fly one place this year.) We’re not afraid, mind you; we’re vaccinated and have no problem getting together with our friends, shopping, or visiting our favorite eateries. When No Time to Die opens in theaters in October, we’ll be there with our popcorn. We figure a booster is going to be necessary to combat the emerging COVID variants and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves when they’re available. But Cathy and I also believe, in all honesty, that it’s going to take a bit longer for society—in this country and abroad—to recover from a terrible year filled with anxiety, fear, depression, fatigue, financial loss, uncertainty, confusion, and misinformation before life in general returns to a semblance of normality for everyone, whatever that might be. It’ll happen, but probably slower than any of us would like.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not playing Debbie Downer and discouraging anyone who is healthy and planning to venture hither and yon for adventures in the coming weeks: only you know you and if you’re confident, more power to you. And that’s what I want to ask our Muddy Colors readers today: what are your plans for the rest of 2021? How many of you are planning to attend or exhibit at any conventions that kick back into gear later this year? To attend gallery shows or exhibitions? To attend in-person workshops? How many will start or return to college this Fall? Are you comfortable getting back on the road this year…or are you planning to wait? I’ll look forward to hearing what you all think and are planning.