I’m sorry that people have been so cruel to you. You showed up last January, minding your own business, and then when our human-created issues blew up in our faces – we blamed you. You’re just a reflection of all of us. A mirror shining back to us all that we have avoided or did not want to see. You forced us to face the fact that so many of the things plaguing our planet are, actually, self-created:
Health pandemic – humans
Racism – humans
Climate change – humans
Political unrest – humans
Lack of connection – human-created algorithms
It makes me think of something my mother used to say to me, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” 2020, you are the world’s bed that we’ve been required to lie in and finally see that it’s pretty lumpy and uncomfortable. You’re our scapegoat, but it is not your fault.
I think you saw how we were ignoring everything and said, “Well, guess it’ll have to be me to just throw it all at them, in hopes that maybe this will open their eyes to what they have created.” As you opened our eyes over-and-over again, we were forced to finally start seeing ourselves, as individuals and as a collective. And for that – I would like to express my gratitude.
You took away so many of the things that I love to do, but in that I was forced to go deeper inside. I was forced to address my loneliness head on and ask myself difficult questions that are usually easier to ignore. You forced me to become better at naming my emotions and asking for what I need. And you showed me that when I am still and quiet, my truest desires will emerge. “Less doing, more BEing,” you continually whispered.
You made me confront my whiteness on a much deeper level and you made it clear that we cannot waste another moment in the systems that are killing and suppressing Black and brown humans. You made the immediacy and urgency pointedly clear. We must create justice, equity, and change. We have to keep being better each day.
You helped me find gratitude in the simplest of pleasures, helping me realize that the small things really are the big things: a warm bed, a delicious homemade meal, a flower blooming after a long and difficult winter, a dog running, a friend walking beside you (6 feet apart and with a mask), a parent’s voice, a sister’s embrace, a niece’s laugh. You showed me that these are the things that help fill our life with joy and that we cannot take for granted.
You reminded me that nature is one of my favorite and greatest teachers. That I am a part of an ecosystem that can feed both my body and soul, but when we take it for granted – when we disregard it as something we own – it will show us how wrong we are.
You taught me just how much in-person connection is vital to my BEing, and while I can be grateful for virtual connection it is not the same. You reminded me how much I love hugs, and that making the effort to show-up and deeply connect with other humans is what we are here to do.
You revealed that I am existing in a state of grief, and that I am not alone. Our country is grieving. We are grieving on stolen land built by enslaved people, and in the systems that thought that was all okay. We are grieving for the lack of healthcare for all, and the 1.6 MILLION lives lost to a global pandemic. We are grieving for the lack of childcare for working parents, good pay for essential workers, and homes for all humans. We are grieving for the women who have been told that their bodies are not their own and for the individuals who are told that they cannot be in the body that they know in their heart to be theirs. We grieve for the people who are told they cannot love who they love, and for those who are told that borders are more important than their lives and safety. You revealed how much we need to heal.
So, yes, 2020 – you were tough. But, it was always my toughest teachers in school who I learned the most from – because they made me grow. As the ever-wise Zora Neale Hurston once wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” Thank you, 2020, for helping us see that the answer to so many of our questions is – Us. Humans. We are the answer. And as we start a new year, we need to ask ourselves and one another, “How will we heal, so that we can change? And how will I BE in order to do this?”
PS. I learned and grew a lot this year, so if you could let 2021 know that maybe it could be a little lighter on the tough lessons, that would be great. Thanks!