Over the past few weeks, as the Jewish New Year arrived and we poise the enter the final quarter of the calendar year, I’ve noticed an uptick in emails and articles proclaiming judgment on 2020.
Never mind that we have 3 months left to the year. The conclusions seem to be in. Almost daily, I see an article or email with a variant on the theme of “2020 sucks.”
This has been the worst year We are all suffering. It’s tragic. I can’t take one more thing.
There’s no question that this has been a challenging year for many people.
Many people have died. People have lost loved ones, their jobs, incomes, and homes. We have all lost a way of life — an amorphous loss that is no less real than any material loss.
The economic impact is only beginning to be felt. We still have a lot more winter to go with coronavirus and with the other implications of everything that has happened and is still to come this year: Racial inequality issues that have been thrust to the surface, consequences of how we have treated our environment. A looming battle over a Supreme Court nomination. An election in a month.
The shakeups are far from over.
It’s worth questioning the story that 2020 is the worst year ever.
Searching For a Silver Lining
I received an email recently saying that
In times like these, it can be hard to find silver linings, but 2020 has shown me time and again that nothing should be taken for granted.
It sparked an interesting question for me: Do we even need a silver lining?
The writer seemed to identify the gold within her statement:
2020 has shown me time and again that nothing should be taken for granted.
There’s a saying that “the gift is in the wound.” Sometimes the gift is bigger than the wound.
Sometimes the gold is in front of us and we just don’t see it.
Reasons to Celebrate 2020
Not everyone is having a sucky year. I know plenty of people who are doing great. Some are lucky to have good jobs and the ability to work remotely.
Others are using this time to reconfigure their lives to focus on what is most important to them. People are shifting their priorities, recognizing where they are out of alignment with their values.
These are things we should be celebrating.
The Opportunity of 2020
It seems poetic that 2020 has been a year of staying home, because in many ways it’s also been a year of the “chickens coming home to roost.”
The events of 2020 are exposing all the ways in which life wasn’t working before. The big issues coming to light are not a result of the pandemic. The pandemic has simply illuminated them, brought them to the surface.
Rather than lamenting these issues, we can celebrate the opportunity to address them and develop truly innovative solutions that will carry us into the coming decades.
This is an opportunity to create new ways of living, working, and being in society together that are more equitable, supportive, and sustainable for all.
Rather than resisting what’s here, let’s look at how we can use it to change what wasn’t working before.
By and large, my perception is that those who are having a great year have accepted the reality and are creating a new life to match the reality, while those who are suffering are those who are pining to return to “normal.”
There’s not going to be a return to normal. And even if you could, why would you want to? The old normal wasn’t so great to begin with.
The Gift of 2020
Changing our practices and ways of working is never easy. It’s like cleaning out your closet: we still want to hang on to some sentimental items, even if they no longer fit.
2020 is doing us a favor: it’s shredding the clothes that no longer fit so we aren’t tempted to hold onto them.
It’s forcing us to let go and to grieve, and then to go out and create something new and better.
That feels like more than a silver lining. It feels like a beautiful gift.