By: JoAnn Schauf
Before I say goodbye to 2020, I’d like to thank it for teaching me that no matter how determined and upbeat I am, I can’t avoid pain, discomfort, and disappointment. I didn’t see it coming a year ago, and like you, the full-throttled attack on life caught me unprepared because pandemics were events in the past when medicine wasn’t sophisticated. Not in the time of cancer cures, organ transplants, and robot technology could the world be gripped by a medical emergency for the better part of a year and continue into 2021. I floundered along with most everyone else on the planet.
Our webs of social, emotional, economic, and family connections knew all too well that the big news reported by the media was personal. We shared the experiences of losing freedom, losing loved ones, and losing the mundane wonderfulness of ordinary life. One friend closed his tea and coffee shop and another her kitchen bakery – both built from the ground up in my neighborhood. They were delightful places where I met with coaching clients over the years and popped in with friends on the weekend. The acute pain for me and scores of loyal customers paled compared to the owners who grieved losing their livelihoods and community. They mirrored the economic pain felt far and wide around the world.
Despite everything, we sparked energy to attempt things we’d never done before. A friend said, “I don’t know who I am, and neither do my besties. Not one of us is artsy-crafty, but we knitted scarves, made drink mixes, and dried homegrown herbs as a first-time gardener: we gave these to each other for Christmas!” Their stories mirrored others who tasted the joy of accomplishment and confidence, stretched new muscles, and honed unexpected talents. These activities relieved their discomfort by investing time in creating things for others.
Like most of us, our better selves rallied, and we discovered how to bring love and meaning to our lives from a distance. All that we’d inked on the calendar – from graduations, weddings, and travels to the everyday pleasures of going to the movies, birthday parties, and being in the presence of co-workers and students – we erased for safety’s sake. Adapting challenged our very core: we adjusted because we had to. To my surprise, one spring morning, my phone notified me that I had to leave for the airport for a wedding. I’d forgotten to delete the reminder and relived the sadness of the canceled wedding. I accepted that there is no assuaging disappointment. Yet, chatting with the future bride and groom brought magic to our hearts that morning, reminding us that we have and love each other no matter what.
It’s easy to say goodbye to a year fraught with division, a deadly virus, racial unrest, and to greet one that holds hope and looks brighter. But in your looking forward, stop and think for a moment about what 2020 gave you. The pandemic will end, and you won’t be the same person you were on January 1, 2020. You shifted and survived. Who are you now?
Here’s to you and your 2020,
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