Finally. In just a few days we will kiss, or kick, 2020 goodbye! I hope to never see a year like you again. The start of the New Year feels like a light at the end of the tunnel for so many, but at the same time kind of feels like deja vu. Did we not feel the same way at the end of 2019? What we all thought was a bad year ended up being a walk in the park compared to what was to come. Sometimes I think to myself that 2020 was just a warm up, but I don’t dare say that out loud!
The top words for the past 365 days have been “loss,” “help,” and “vote.” It’s reflected in this year’s top Google search results which include, “unemployment,” “election results,” “symptoms,” and “protests near me.” Everyone is going to have their own stories about this year. What will you remember? What will you pass on to the next generation that will be born to usher in a new time and tell those too young to remember the hardships?
For me, I’ll talk about the the initial emotion the hit most of us- thinking, it won’t happen here. But then it did. At the same time that there was an outcry of civil unrest, a deadly virus hit. A virus that effected certain groups more than others. A virus that divided the our country… which seemed odd because in other places of the world… it brought them together. Policies seemed to unify the people of New Zealand and Australia. Not here. Instead of making it a human issue, it became political. It became about choosing sides. I’ll tell my son about the losses. Not just those who died but those who went on living with loss. People who were unemployed for the duration, people who kept their jobs but had significant cuts in pay with increasing costs they needed to keep up with. Hell, I’ll tell him how it took me two weeks to find toilet paper.
If I look deeper into the year, there is more to it than what the news covered. Amidst all the calamity there was beauty for those who seeked it out. My husband and I created some of that beauty be deciding to not delay starting our family for the “perfect moment.” That maybe this was the right time to bring something new into a changing world. Of course, he is now part of a huge accidental baby boom, but we had actually been planning this for years and felt prepared and were naive to the fact that the end of this pandemic was NOT near.
Creation of new life wasn’t the only beauty I witnessed in this chaos. Just as I saw great divisions among friends and neighbors, I saw those who came together. People willing to drop off groceries to the elderly. Friends checking in more often. Churches (like mine) stepping up and making sure donations to the food pantries were made.
While having less, I gained more. More perspective. More gratitude. More grace. These were not lessons learned easily and it took the better half of the year to really come to understand them. Truthfully, I’d love to not have to be taught them again.
So 2021, I write to you to acknowledge the pressure you are under. Much like your predecessor, so many have leaned into your arrival with great expectations as if a switch will be flipped when the clock strikes midnight. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that in the back of my mind I am doing the same as much as I try not to. It’s really not fair to you.
The New Year marks not only the passage of time but the beginning to a hefty to-do list. Everyone gets together their goals and resolutions to puzzle-fit it into your 12 month span. Somehow you have become responsible to change the tides.
On top of weight loss, healthier habits, new friendships, and promotions at work that year’s past have been asked to fulfill you will be asked to heal the world. Heal the relations between countries that heated during the pandemic. To heal families that were broken by death, unemployment, and political differences. To heal those who are suffering the long term mental and respiratory deficits from having their body ravaged with disease. What a task. How can ONE YEAR be expected to do it all? We don’t even ask the president of our country to do it all in one year… that’s why we elect them for four.
I don’t expect you to do it all. Actually, I believe it’s time we realize it’s not on you, 2021, but on us. If change is what we want, then we shouldn’t rely on a new year to make it happen. January isn’t magic.
I will make this year different by being different myself.
Instead of waiting for things to get better, I will prepare the way. It starts with a little change in attitude. I’m not hopeful for a better year, I am certain. I am certain because not everything relies on external circumstances. I can work harder to communicate with the right people and be clear with what I want. I can be kind to people that aren’t kind to me. I can be helpful to my community without expecting my community to help me in return. But most of all, I can help myself.
Whether the world heals this year or not, I can heal. I can use the patience I’ve garnered this year and use it to not feel disappointed in 2021. Great things take time and I want greatness. I will give my hopes and dreams the appropriate amount of time they require to become a reality and expect an accelerated time table just because it would be easier.
2021, we are waiting on you, but it is not entirely up to you. Your job is to give us a new sense of determination. The feeling that we can turn over a new leaf. Hope for the future. That load is heavy enough. The rest is up to us.