We are finally at the end of the dumpster fire that is 2020, the day we all can say we have been waiting for.
And yet, there is no magic spell that will cure the pandemic and return life to the way we knew it, come January 1, 2021.
Lots of us, myself included, had high hopes and excitement for what the new year would bring. It wasn’t just a new year, but a new decade.
LOTS OF US, MYSELF INCLUDED, HAD HIGH HOPES AND EXCITEMENT FOR WHAT THE NEW YEAR WOULD BRING. IT WASN’T JUST A NEW YEAR, BUT A NEW DECADE.
All of us, the entire world, for the first time in three generations, were blindsided by a global pandemic which made no place safe, abruptly cut all in-person human interaction outside the household, and made every surface, touch, and outing a cause for paranoia, unseen before.
We were asked to quarantine, an archaic sounding word that the vast majority have never used, but now became part of our everyday conversations.
Travel plans were canceled, schools closed indefinitely, and businesses were shuttered, and along with that, millions lost their jobs, their livelihoods, and the financial stability to pay bills and buy groceries.
Decline in mental wellness cannot be overstated. Being suddenly cut off from seeing family, friends, classmates, and even neighbors was and is an unnatural, yet necessary step in curbing the virus, but not without its cost.
That said, with all that was against us, we found creative ways to push through the year.
THAT SAID, WITH ALL THAT WAS AGAINST US, WE FOUND CREATIVE WAYS TO PUSH THROUGH THE YEAR.
Play dates and meet ups went virtual and students around the world learned remotely. Weddings, with only a handful of guests were live streamed while pretty much all of us had our most recent birthday hunkered down at home. Some of us learned new skills, while others pursued physical health, or finally acted on that long-held project or idea.
Technology, while some may argue has taken the place of meaningful human interaction (social media, anyone?), has been a blessing during this time. I can’t help but wonder: if this pandemic had happened 15 or 20 years ago, what would we have done? How would our children have learned? How would we have kept in touch with others face to face? How would we have bonded with those in other communities and countries going through this shared experience?
SOCIAL MEDIA TOO, EVEN WITH SOME OF ITS NEGATIVE ASPECTS, HAS BEEN A LIFELINE IN A WAY, FOR ME AT LEAST, TO SEE HOW OTHERS IN MY COMMUNITY OR ACROSS THE WORLD ARE COPING, ALL OF US TOGETHER, WITH THIS BEAST.
There was no Netflix or Amazon (in their present forms), or many of the other services we have come to count on during this time. Social media too, even with some of its negative aspects, has been a lifeline in a way, for me at least, to see how others in my community or across the world are coping, all of us together, with this beast.
But, most ironic of all, with all of the struggle and fear and uncertainty, there emerged a new longing for the many basic things we took for granted and now missed: having a chat with a neighbor while picking up the mail, enjoying a meal with friends at a restaurant, taking in a movie at a crowded theater, and picking up our kids from school.
BUT, MOST IRONIC OF ALL, WITH ALL OF THE STRUGGLE AND FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY, THERE EMERGED A NEW APPRECIATION FOR THE MANY BASIC THINGS WE TOOK FOR GRANTED AND NOW MISSED: HAVING A CHAT WITH A NEIGHBOR WHILE PICKING UP THE MAIL, ENJOYING A MEAL WITH FRIENDS AT A RESTAURANT, TAKING IN A MOVIE AT A CROWDED THEATER, AND PICKING UP OUR KIDS FROM SCHOOL.
In its place, there has been a renewed appreciation for the outdoors, movie nights at home, a few minutes of conversations with someone we haven’t seen in awhile (virtual or six feet apart) and just waking up in the morning—alive and well.
So many—too many—have succumbed to this terrible illness–insidious, unfamiliar and unknown: whispered first as coronavirus, then reluctantly mentioned as corona, and now frustratingly normalized colloquially as COVID, from COVID-19.
Too many of our seniors and those with underlying medical conditions, plus so many others around the world suffered alone and died in isolation, a fate no one deserves. This should be a harsh lesson to us all.
If you opened your eyes this morning, be grateful.
If your children hugged you today, be grateful.
If you had a hot meal today, be grateful.
If you reached this day with your mental health intact, or were able to receive the help you needed, be grateful.
If your dinner table does not have an empty chair, be grateful.
If you can breathe, be grateful.
“If you can’t be content with what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped.”
My very best wishes to you and yours at the end this year and the start of the next. We don’t know what’s in store for us, but we do know that we will be stronger going forward, and that we all need each other more than we ever knew.
Happy New Year!
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