Hindsight is 2020 – we have all heard that saying before. But ironically, that saying is so fitting now; so poetically apropos. Looking back with a clear vision to what the year 2020 taught me, and how things could have gone better, gives me the initial thought that there is SO MUCH that could have gone better, so much that I would choose to do differently. I think we could all make a list of our lessons from 2020, and each of our lists would be a little bit different. They may include things like in-person connection is more important than I realized, or there are so many places on my travel list I still want to explore, or I love/hate working from home, or I love/hate teaching my kids from home, or I never realized the significance of toilet paper in relation to pandemics. Of the many lessons from 2020 for me, I have a top three that I will share with you, three that may ring true for you: choice, resilience, and gratitude.
Introducing the year that I never predicted was coming, at least not with any certainty. A global pandemic unlike anything I had ever experienced. Lockdowns, social isolation, physical distancing, mask wearing – all terms and phrases I had never used before but are now common phrases. I never would have dreamed that I would live a life of six-foot distancing and become a bit of a connoisseur of masks – creating a stash of my favourites for fit, ease, comfort, and style. It has been without a doubt a life-changing experience; I am not the same after this event as I was before. I cannot go back to who I was before 2020. Oh, I am no stranger to life-changing events – divorce, my brother’s suicide, my diagnosis of a brain tumour, remarriage. But this is the first time in my almost fifty years that I have experienced a life-changing event with the world. This is rather unique don’t you think? With this comes a choice – will I accept or resist my circumstance? This is 2020 Lesson #1 – Choice. I am not always in control – I am not always at the helm of my life. That is, I can control many things in my life, but not all things. What I CAN control however, is how I choose to react to things in my life. As Maya Angelou states “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it”.
I also learned that we can do hard things. Harder than you can possibly imagine. Survive and thrive through events that you would think would break you. We can do that. We are created to do just that. And when we do, when we conquer the foe by fight or surrender, we see that we have traveled through a dark valley and are once again at the top of the mountain, enjoying the glorious view of this beautiful life. This is 2020 Lesson #2 – Resilience.
“When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience” – Jaeda Dewalt.
As 2020 continued along, with various levels of restrictions that changed every day living, it was challenging not to head down a path of lamenting about what was not, about what we wish things were like, about how things used to be. The best and easiest way I know of overcoming that challenge of resistance and moving towards acceptance is to take stock and practice gratitude. Yes, I am not able to see my extended family the way I would like to, but I am grateful for all the many memories that I have of my family, and hopeful of making more. Yes, I miss traveling and seeking adventure in that way, but I am grateful to live in a beautiful corner of the world that offers so much in my own backyard. Yes, I long for activities as normal – being able to watch hockey in person, attending a concert, watching our daughter’s gymnastics. But I am thankful that hockey has continued for many in a modified way, that there will be a time again to attend concerts, and watch gymnastics. This is 2020 Lesson #3 – Gratitude. Practicing, culminating, and expressing gratitude has been proven in study after study to be effective in positively affecting physical and mental health
One thing is for sure, I would never have chosen the events of 2020 if I had been given a choice. But the circumstances, as difficult and challenging as they have been, have provided many, many lessons which I now see as the Gifts from 2020.