What does it mean when we transition from one year to the next? A chance to make way for new beginnings. An opportunity to reset. A time to reflect and take stock. A time for resolutions. A chance to begin again.
But of course, transitioning from 2020 to 2021 is a vastly different transition to a New Year than years past. Reflecting on 2020 is much more poignant than other past year reflections. I am amazed that we have all been living an experience that affected the whole world.
In fact, I am in awe of all that transpired in 2020:
Watching with fascination the early days of lockdown in Italy and listening to people singing and playing instruments in appreciation for the first responders and healthcare workers
Admiring human ingenuity as organizations converted to be able to make PPE equipment
Learning to be appreciative of everyday things like toilet paper and flour
Being amazed at humanitarian aid workers, many already pushed to the brink, finding the ability to respond to even graver needs
Taking countless walks, during which we’d see neighbors we’d hardly seen in years, despite decades in the same house
Marveling at the strength and commitment of millions of healthcare workers
Feeling gratitude for frontline workers in grocery stores and other organizations whose dedication meant that we could all get what we needed
Witnessing federal governments navigate – albeit imperfectly – through political divides to make funding available to the citizens and organizations in their countries
Standing in awe of the amazing science that has yielded vaccines in months rather than years
Feeling inspired by the millions who marched and put the fight for racial justice once again at the fore
Honoring the many ways people have actively supported the individuals, families, and communities who have faced so many losses – loss of loved ones, loss of homes, loss of jobs, loss of wellbeing
Respecting the commitment and ingenuity of teachers, students, and parents as schools and daycares were completely upended
Admiring the creativity and fortitude of countless people working in organizations small and large to find new ways of working, new ways of serving customers, new ways of staying connected, and new ways of creating value
Applauding the innumerable ways individuals, partners and families found to make working and living at home a new way of being – baking bread, home exercise, binge watching, reading, walking, gardening, zooming with family, hanging in there
In some ways the beginning of 2021 is like every new year – a time to reflect, to make commitments, to breathe deep and begin anew. In other ways, it is like no other new year in the last 100 years. Therefore it calls us, even in our pandemic-weary state, to reflect with more insight, to breathe even more deeply, and to fortify ourselves to begin 2021 with commitments to action, optimism and care – for others and also for ourselves.
I’m sure like many, I was initially exhilarated at the release of the first vaccines. But this was followed by a time of frustration. Why will it take so long for vaccines to be distributed? But lately I have tried to reframe my thinking; to look at this period as a sort of gift (at least for those of us who can afford to wait). This time between “help is on the way” and “help is not quite here yet” could be a time of deepening our commitments for what matters. A time to pause so we don’t boomerang back to the crazy, hectic, half-awake, habitual existence many of us were living. A time to remember to appreciate family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, good work, a rhythm of living closer to nature. A time to choose what we will keep from the last year, what we will reclaim from years past, and what we will begin anew. A time to think about who we will care for and how we will express that care. For many of us, a time to remember what extraordinarily privileged lives we live and to wholeheartedly accept the responsibilities that come with that privilege.
Wishing you all a New Year filled with hope, love, learning and care.