I keep seeing people talking about leaving 2020 behind as if it didn’t happen.
And while I partially agree with that sentiment, if it is true that hindsight is 2020, wouldn’t we want to keep it in our memories so that we can learn and grow from it?
Aren’t there lessons we’ve learned from and through this year that have been eye-opening and transformational, to say the least?
Because the truth of the matter is, we all were awakened, so to speak, this year. Life collectively shifted for ALL of us. Not just Americans. Not just people who live in a certain or specific state or city. Not just Black, White, Indigenous, Asian or Latinx folks…EVERYONE. East coast, west coast worldwide.
When else has that happened in our lifetimes?
So that being said, I think it’s safe to say that we shouldn’t in fact act as though 2020 didn’t happen, leave it all behind.
Because there have been some tremendously valuable lessons there.
First, we learned about the power of slowing down.
And while this is and has been tremendously difficult for people, it’s also allowed us to take a collective breath, stop running around so frantically. Pause.
It’s allowed the earth to heal itself, if only briefly.
But here’s where the issue lies. In the pause is discomfort. In the slowing down is time…extra time, quiet, space…to evaluate, listen, and assess ourselves. And sometimes that’s not pretty. Sometimes it’s harsh. It’s dark. It’s scary.
And that’s ok.
You see, the movement and hypnotic cycles we were all in kept us, well, hypnotized and numb. We didn’t have to feel or face a lot of things if we didn’t want to. We could just keep moving and blame it on the pace of life. The busy-ness of life. Until we could no longer do so.
We faced pandemics. That’s right…multiple.
First, the pandemic of the COVID-19 virus. Invisible yet everywhere, silent yet deadly.
And then the pandemic of racism. Invisible yet everywhere, silent (in some cases, in others not so much) yet deadly.
And we were forced to come to grips with both, to reckon with both, to learn how to cope and survive (and hopefully overcome) both.
While some people were happy choosing the path of denial in this process, some were ready to turn on the lights and face the facts. And with both, for some, they were harder to believe until they personally affected them and/or family or friends. Then it became real. And reality, perspective and belief shifted yet again.
And in that shift is possibility. It’s also a new and different way. Revolutionary in fact.
We saw an uprising in support of Black Lives Matter.
We also saw an uprising in support of more respect, decorum, peace and civility in the White House and in the political arena, even if our choices weren’t optimal.
We saw a shift in how people do business. Now we don’t have to necessarily go into an office space to be just as effective, if not more, than that old model.
And while we saw those shifts, we also saw backlash, hesitancy, resistance.
That’s ok. It makes complete sense. Because with change – personal, professional, societal – comes all of the above.
People like to be comfortable. We have been groomed to be comfortable and content with the creature comforts of our modern society. Yet we also know that for many many years and millennia prior to the rise of capitalism, we were ok without.
So this is really about a return to what we once knew. What our souls know. We know and understand it’s a good thing to slow down. It’s a good thing to value everyone regardless of their background. It’s a good thing to treat everyone with respect and equity. Even in its challenges.
We know there’s a natural way to heal, even if it takes longer, or is more uncomfortable, or is more foreign than simply taking a pill.
This is truly nothing new. We just needed a wake up call to get there. After all, what else could have gotten us all there at the same time?
So as we approach 2021, I encourage you to do three things:
- Write down all of the things you learned, gained, and the ways you shifted or changed this year. Express gratitude for those things (you can write it as “this year I am grateful for…”). Take those things for which you are grateful into the new year. They add to and will make a better you.
- Now imagine what is possible in the new year with those extra tools and things you have learned. What do you want to achieve or accomplish? What are your intentions? How do those all feel when you imagine them? Breathe that feeling in. Practice imagining this consistently and more than once. Writing it down makes it even more tangible and powerful!
- Keep going back and re-reading what you’ve written as a reminder to your brain of those things you are grateful for, you’ve learned, and what you hope to accomplish and achieve.
In grief, sometimes people want to skip over the hard parts and just get to the healing. But the true healing happens when we allow ourselves to reflect on the hurt, pain, and all that person or loved one (or situation) meant to us.
We also must acknowledge that person or loved one wasn’t all good or all bad, but a combination of everything. A mixture. A complex being that wasn’t one-dimensional.
It’s the same as we reflect on 2020. We can choose to honor it, appreciate it, and thank it for what it’s shown and taught us. Show gratitude for it in all of its complexities and its multi-dimensionality. Then and only then can we go into 2021 stronger, wiser, and better equipped to handle whatever is thrown our way.
Wishing you peace, love and light in 2021 and beyond.