2020 is coming to a close. Even though December 31st won’t bring a glorious end to many of the challenges of this year, it does feel like an ending of sorts. A milestone. It feels like we made it. And most of us are still around. It also feels like a good time to reflect on all that happened since the last December 31st, consider how those events have shaped me, and rest in to who I am today.
In accounting, we break time up into accounting periods. Months, quarters, and years are the most common. We track everything that happens during those periods as consistently as possible. These otherwise arbitrary sections of time are useful because the whole point of accounting is to make all the financial data shaped the same so we can compare one period to another within an organization, or compare one organization to another for the same accounting period.
The problem with performing that kind of comparative analysis for 2020 is that so much about this year is completely incomparable. We all heard the word “unprecedented” used to describe so many things in the news that it basically turned from useful adjective into meaningless jargon. It became a buzzword. But there was just no playbook for a global economic shutdown, and no template for dealing with the confluence of other events that appeared against the backdrop of Covid.
There are a great many things I’m grateful for this year that could not have happened in an ordinary year. I’m grateful I witnessed the amazing resilience of nature during the first several weeks of lock-down when everyone suddenly stopped commuting to work. I’m grateful so many more humans woke up to the realities of modern racism and the prevalence of white supremacy in our societal and interpersonal systems. I'm grateful for the relationships I cherish that have grown deeper through the madness. I’m grateful for all the examples of people helping other people and for the opportunity to help and be helped.
I am also compelled to acknowledge the tremendous suffering and trauma this year has brought to all of us to varying degrees. I miss seeing my friends and family in-person. I miss meeting new people and making new friends. I miss travel. I miss dancing. I miss smiles and I miss hugs. I really miss hugs. And I really really miss punching and kicking my dojo buddies while they are also punching and kicking me!
In spite of all the impact I feel, my suffering seems minimal compared to folks who had access to fewer social, emotional, or monetary resources. Millions of folks lost jobs at the beginning of the Covid shutdown and many of those jobs never re-materialized when things began to re-open. Countless small business owners couldn't hold out as long as Covid lasted and closed permanently. Too many people were sick and died, or lost loved ones to illness. And I don't even know how many humans are poised for eviction the moment the moratorium ends.
I have seen a lot of "thank goodness 2020 is finally over" memes and pronouncements, and I can relate to that sentiment. It sure has been one hell of a year. But I also feel compelled to remind us all that some of the hardest things about 2020 are on-going. The pandemic won't reset back to zero cases on January 1. Racism and white supremacy are still baked in to every part of society. Industry and individuals are still causing the global climate to change at an unsustainable rate.
I’m ready for this nightmare of a year to be over, just like everybody else. But I don’t want to leave any of the lessons behind in my haste to move on. Especially because the wisdom I gained this year was hard won often through great discomfort. I want to hold this moment and remember that we are all still in process and making the world a better place is a long-term goal.
So I don’t want to slam the door on 2020 and never speak of it again. I want to shake 2020’s hand and walk next door to meet 2021 with all the wisdom of this difficult year still in my pocket.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.