Everyone I know is in a hurry to bid farewell to 2020, to toss it, shelve it, burn it, curse it. But me, I believe that lessons ignored are lessons repeated, so I am trying to frame the year within the context of what I’ve learned, or gained (besides weight), and who I’ve become as a result.
I honestly thought, when this worldwide time-out began, that it would be a global time of reflection and introspection. I thought we would pause just long enough to figure out that how we were operating was neither meaningful nor sustainable. I believed the isolation would be brief and impactful, and that the world would come out the other side better for it.
I grossly underestimated the desire to cling to the old, to have things as they were, to resist necessary change, to distract with anything and everything to avoid my own discontent. And the world, it turns out, was a pretty accurate reflection of me.
There’s no building a house on a crumbling foundation, and as the year closes out, the way I see it is that 2020 was a giant wrecking ball sent to demolish life as we knew it. And while the impact jarred us, and left us reeling in its after effects, focusing on the loss, what it affords us now is the singular opportunity to build a new life and world structure on a more solid and intentional foundation.
The losses are unfair, but their randomness forces us to be present to life’s fragility and impermanence. The isolation is excruciating, but will you ever again take any get together, big or small, for granted? The loss of complete industries is unfathomable, but will you ever dismiss anything from a haircut to seeing a live performance as mundane or forgettable? I won’t.
Of all the things I am most grateful for about 2020, it is the deepening of relationships. I have never treated them frivolously to begin with, but now? Now I cherish every moment. I have no superficial conversations, whether you are new to my life or have been here forever. I say the words “I love you” more frequently and with the knowledge that our next interaction isn’t guaranteed.
I’ve lost a lot of friends and relatives in 2020. And the enormity of these losses has made me more compassionate – towards myself and towards everyone else. We are all lost, grieving and hurting in different ways, so let’s be gentle with each other, since we don’t know where the wounds are on the other.
I have witnessed the immense divide in humanity, between our darkness and our light. The hate has left me gasping and speechless. But so has the love.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I want to take with me and what I want to leave behind.
Can I be happy without making definitive plans? 2020 has made a mockery of my plans.
Of what can I be certain when life looks like I can be certain of nothing?
What do I need versus what do I want?
What will endure of me, even when I physically don’t endure anymore?
And the one that has been taking up a lot of real estate in my mind lately…
Who am I if I can no longer be who I was?
There is a chance to make a fresh start, to lay a solid foundation, built on the stuff 2020 has forced us to learn. The unpleasant awfulness, yet intrinsic beauty of our own mortality. The preciousness of a moment. The eternal nature of love.
There is little beyond our basic necessities that matter.
Every encounter and interaction with each other is a holy one, sacred in its delicacy, and anointed in its uniqueness.
This world will not continue to exist when one life is valued more than another, when entire races, genders, orientations, religions are discounted, dismissed, oppressed, or discriminated against. It may have been that way for a long, long time, but it will remain that way no longer.
The ugliness that has come to the surface and been exposed in the light of day has done so to be seen and healed once and for all. Hate is born of fear, and it is fear that is the opposite of love. Fear that there isn’t enough. Fear that what is different from me is threatening to me. Fear that we, at our core, are not enough. Isn’t it time we lay that shit down for good? It’s exhausting.
So what I hope is that 2021 is the year we look at ourselves, at our lives, and at this world and decide to build a foundation with materials of abiding value. I hope that we stand in the rubble of our yesterdays and let them go. I hope we forgive ourselves for the wasted time and blatant disregard of our better angels. And I hope we take seriously the job of planting seeds, whether they be for food to nourish, ideas that will grow us, or relationships we cherish.
I hope that we will see that, for all its uncertainty, for all its ups and downs, for all its triumphs and tragedies, ecstasy and devastation, life is, in fact, good.
I wish you a 2021 where each day is better than the one before, where you know you are loved and that your presence here matters greatly. I wish you happy surprises, good trouble, and adventures that thrill.
Most of all, I hope the day comes that I can see you again, in person, and can hug you. Be forewarned. I will hug you.
Until then…Happy 2021.