2020 held a great deal of promise for many of us. Consequently, what occupied my mind last year, was the delightful thought of my Mother’s 100th Birthday bash in Victoria, BC, and how much she would love it. My main complaint was too many snowbanks on the street and why couldn’t the city do a better job. If only I had known what was coming that complaint would never have passed my lips.
Little did any of us know that our celebrations and travel plans would be upended. Much worse was the havoc, death and devastation worldwide, created by Covid 19. We all know what happened and how we continue still, to co-exist with this unwanted virus in our midst. Everyone has experienced some form of loss this year in many aspects of our lives. No one I know is sad to see the end of this year. And yet…
It is easy to see all that we have lost and all the obstacles we had to overcome. No wonder obstacles are front and centre, because an obstacle requires our attention. I am not one to say that cancer, as an example, is a gift. I do say this: I don’t want anyone to get cancer, but, since I did, there were things that arose out of the experience that I wouldn’t change for a moment:
- Friendships deep and abiding
- The shift in how I work due to my direct experience of cancer -my vocation
- The reminder that I too am mortal. We all know it, but we can’t picture our own demise today. Getting a nudge allowed me to re-evaluate my life. Kind of like a second chance.
- Moving to Ottawa
- My cycling trips
- My marathon walks
- My blogs
- And much much more.
You can argue that all of the above other than #2 could happen without getting cancer. I agree. However, it is interesting to me that most of that list happened during and post cancer.
I believe the pandemic has had a similar influence. When we are threatened, we stop and re-evaluate what is most important, and we often make changes.
Unexpected gifts this year, beyond the obvious
- My weekly visits to Wellspring Calgary via my Living Well with Illness – Zoom Webinar series
- My regular walks and important talks with my grandchildren
- The zoom Birthday party for my Mother – thank goodness for this technology
- The gift of being with my Mother and our family when she died
- The book, Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Taking back my Secular Sabbath
- Moderating regular coffeehouses for the ToDo Institute. Who would have known that I could be good at that?? (not me)
- Learning not to touch my face. I thought I would never get it, but I did. Flu season in Canada has had a reduction of cases by 98%, so I guess many of us learned the skill of meticulous hygiene.
- A “Whatsapp” video call from Japanese friends during their 4 day hike. Since covid we have all become skilled at knowing how to connect with each other across the planet. This won’t change after things are restored to a new normal. We now take this kind of connection for granted, just like a phone call. It was delightful to see their faces, the trail they were hiking and share a few words together.
- Learning how to draw, sketch, create mandalas… I am now a serious beginner. I dipped my toe in and I am ready for the plunge. 2021 is my year to draw and sketch. This came about because of Covid and my desire to find an expressive art form to work with beyond photography and writing.
- Kudos to the entertainment industry that turned their creative and imaginative talents to amazing ways to cheer us all on.
I am reminded just as I was with cancer to take nothing for granted. To cultivate awareness, appreciation and gratitude for the life I am living. I am convinced that it is in ordinary living that meaning, satisfaction and contentment are re-discovered. I can’t stop thinking of my maternal grandmother who had very little of the world’s wealth or status but she was rich in the ordinary ways of living and creating and all that life entails. Resourceful, resilient, full of good cheer and kindness…surely the pandemic has taught us that we all can use more of that.
I don’t have a crystal ball. However, I think it is safe to say that by this time next year things will be different. Since change is the only constant I can’t be wrong. I like to hope that we learn from 2020 and pay way more attention to sound public health policy and budgets to support our epidemiologists and public health sectors. And to recognize how quickly we can adapt to changing circumstances, even if we don’t like them – think school, work, tele-health… I can imagine that fine minds are already researching new and better ways of learning, working, healthcare delivery and alternate sources of energy, to name but a few. Not to mention our long term care facilities desperately in need of improvement.
I always imagine that things will eventually get better and that is my experience. So I enter 2021 filled with realistic hope and will cross each bridge as it comes. Happy New Year to you all.
You can clearly see my message to you, at the end of this year. The image is thanks to my good friend, Patricia Ryan Madson, author of Improv Wisdom, one of my favourite books. And the banner photo is one I love that appeared on my desktop a few days ago. I was able to purchase it from Shutterstock and it is a view on Bruges. Bergen Norway by Tatyana Vyc. The reflections and primary colours seemed to suit my desire for a reflective closing of the year and a cheerful welcome to the New Year.
My warmest and most hopeful wishes to you all for a healthy New Year and one where we can breathe a little easier, in all areas of our lives. With appreciation to each and everyone of you, trudy