2020 – What a Year!!

As I look back on 2020, I realize that the year was like no other year before it and hopefully like no other year after it too. It was one of a kind; physically challenging, emotionally exhausting and draining, a very tough year indeed.

It began on a good note like every other year, but it started unfolding like a horror story as we entered the second month. The entire world was hit hard by a virus which brought us all to our knees. The humankind so to say came to be at the mercy of the dreaded coronavirus. And with it came untold misery, sadness, fear and uncertainty.

The year had more than its share of negative emotions like fear, anger, sadness, disbelief, disappointment, stress and outrage. The year won’t be easily forgotten, but how will we all remember the year?  One thing is for sure; the year will be remembered as a watershed year, a year that led to new beginnings, many drastic changes and developments. As is being said, there will be a BC (Before Corona) and an AC (After Corona). There was a world before the Pandemic, and there will be a world after it, which will be very different but hopefully a better one.

It was a year that brought unprecedented havoc in the lives of people sparing no country, no community, no region. It impacted health, economy, politics, society, culture, environment, probably every aspect of our lives. And we, the mighty humans, could do nothing about it. A virus dared to hold us to ransom.

As 2020 ended and we all stepped into the new year hoping and expecting the world to change my mind got to work. Was 2020 really only bad and did nothing good come out of it?

The question made me think deep and hard. I realized that we humans tend to focus on things which seem to affect us the most. Many times we stay on the surface and do not scratch to look beneath it. The case with the year gone by has been pretty much the same.

So yes, the year will always be remembered for the suffering and misery it caused to humanity worldwide, but there were certain good things too that came out of it, some lessons that we were made to learn.

For starters, I think the year and its happenings were in many ways waiting to happen.  It was like a time bomb waiting to explode. As a race, we had pushed our resources, our planet, the mother nature to the very limit. Some retaliation was bound to happen. It was a  matter of time, and as luck would have it that time, so to say, occurred in 2020.

So we need to stop wondering and questioning as to why it happened when it did. Yes, it was man-made, but I think there were other forces at work as well.

And I don’t believe that the year was only bad. I feel it was filled with lessons for us to learn, remember things we had forgotten. The human race which had become selfish, materialistic, impatient and shallow was given a damn good jolt. There was lots to learn, though only time will tell  how much we actually did learn.

The year as I feel taught us to pause and reflect. It taught us to slow down. That fast-paced life where we were all always in a frenzy was too unrealistic to last, and that is what the year showed us. It showed that life could be lived in the slow lane, and we could be happier and more at peace.

The year taught us that we as humans need to feel for other humans. We all exist and live together, so how can we not care for others. It reminded us about the forgotten emotions of empathy, sympathy, love and patience for others.  When we saw people suffering, we empathized, we sympathized. We could feel for others since we were not full of our own selves. And as the virus started striking closer home, we could actually feel the pain. The reason was that after a long time, we all had the time to look beyond ourselves and pay attention to the world around us. We had somewhere lost the ability to do that. The humanistic touch that is so important had got lost, and we needed to get it back. The year made sure that it did.

Patience, tolerance, forbearance were some of the virtues that had got lost in the humdrum of life. As a race, we had become too impatient, always in a mad rush trying to do a million things at one time with the result that we had no time for ourselves, leave alone for others. The lockdown ensured that for once, we had nothing to do. There were no tasks to be completed, no deadlines to be met, no bosses sitting on our heads. We could be relaxed and take things easy and handle things patiently.

Often, we get impatient when we pile up too much on our plates and don’t have the time or the capacity to deal with it. But after a long time during the lockdown, we didn’t have much to do, and so whatever we did we could do it patiently and in a much better way.

The lockdown made us drop everything and be at home. This meant that we spent more time with our loved ones and ended up catching up with each other. In some cases, yes, it led to not very pleasant consequences, but in many cases, it also improved relations. Yes, there were cases of divorces, women getting abused, but there were situations where, for instance, the relation between parents and children improved. They got to spend time with each other and get to know each other.

We could all spend quality time with our loved ones. Even if one was doing things like playing board games, watching movies, cooking , having conversations, there was a great deal of sharing and caring.

Then we also realized the value of the four walls of the house. All our lives we spend so much time and resources in building a good, comfortable home, doing it up with furnishings, curios and then never spend time there. I, for one would always lament that I never had the time to sit in my balcony and have a cup of tea. Well, the lockdown changed all that. For once we could all enjoy our homes. I had many cups of tea along with times when I would even have my meals there. And I am not the only one in my family. We all did that.

The lockdown also made us do one more thing. We all got time to spend with our own selves. After years I could do so much that I had wanted to but had never had the time for it. From picking up on hobbies that had been buried in the times of dust to just sitting by self and reflecting on myself. What had I achieved in life, not only materialistically but otherwise too? What kind of people was I surrounded by? How stimulating were my interactions? Were they merely mindless or was there a value add in terms of intellectual stimulation.

I also spent a lot of time pampering myself by indulging in beauty regimes, listening to podcasts, reading, writing,  cooking, gardening and doing yoga. And the best part was there was no rush to do things quickly and hence no stress. After years I had the opportunity to wake up with no schedule for the day. I had stuff to do, but there was no tearing hurry. I was working online but didn’t have to dress up and of course, travel to get to work. So a lot of time got saved.

The year also taught us to value the fact that you don’t need a lot to survive or lead a happy existence. You can do with very little. In fact, we learnt that one should follow a minimalist approach in life.

Even as far as people are concerned, we realized that you don’t need an army of people around you. Just a few who matter to you and to whom you matter is what is required. One can live without large gatherings, large parties.

So yes, the year was a challenging year in many ways. But it was a  year full of learnings. Somewhere I feel that it was the universe’s way of teaching us humans to be mindful of where we are, what we have and to value it, cherish it. Without this jolt to us, we the human race would have never learnt. So the year told us to Reset, Refocus, Readjust and Restart.

I think on a positive note, one should be grateful to the year gone by for what it forced mankind to become. It has made us all more resilient, stronger and accepting of others and of situations.

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