How do you celebrate an anniversary? Especially an anniversary this weird. It’s always good to pause to reflect on events. It’s one of the best learning tools we have. What just happened? What went right? Wrong? Needs improvement? What do we keep? Let go?
It’s like Søren Kierkegaard observed "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” So here I sit (looking forward and backwards) on the anniversary of one of the weirdest years - and the last few years have been pretty darned weird indeed - and I have to ask, what did I learn? Here is my list.
* This is not a punishment. It just is.
* Never thought I would have a collection of face masks.
* Never thought that “I like your mask” would become such a common conversation starter.
* I am finally cautious. My father would be happy.
* We are living history. W\But then we have always been living history. We will always live history.
* I look forward to living in a precedented time.
* My mask kept my face warm on winter walks.
* Hope is a wonderful human trait.
* Health care workers are platinum heroes but our health care system is deeply flawed.
* Even though we fed relationships with more emails, phone calls, Facetime, and Zoom, we missed people.
* Letting go is okay and often necessary.
* I cannot go back.
* Far more people care about the welfare of their neighbors than who do not care.
* I embrace the happy accidents.
* The sidewalk conversations on my daily walks have been a social blessing.
* The people who keep society running are dramatically underpaid.
* There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.
* We have great parks and hiking trails in the area.
* People are resilient and creative.
* I learned some new skills but didn't master any.
* We have a strong marriage.
* I enjoy making and eating sourdough pancakes. (Perhaps a little too much.)
* I teared up when I got the first vaccine shot. Talk about pent up stress.
* I can adapt.
* Being outside is a great balm.
* Our front porch is the coziest room in our house.
* My bread making skills improved. My apologies and thanks to my patient guinea pigs.
* Dinner choices are more casual - chips and salsa, ice cream, are sometimes okay - and eating in front of the TV is okay too.
* People are such creative problem solvers.
* There is no better time to be sick than now because medical science is the best it’s ever been.
* We keep trays and utensils in the car for what are now impromptu short road trip car meals or picnics.
* It is devastatingly sad to miss funerals of long time friends and former students because of COVID and having a compromised immune system.
* Cancer sucks but we've met the most remarkable people as a result.
* People are much kinder than you can imagine.
* People can be so cruel when they are hurting.
* Being present is difficult but achievable.
* I am easily pleased.
* Social media kept us connected but easily manipulated.
* Every challenge presents new opportunities.
* Working from home is here for the foreseeable future.
* Teachers, students, and schools are amazing in the way they were able to reimagine school and reboot it so quickly.
* Every road has bumps.
* There is no need to fear the unknown.
* There are patterns to everything. Understand the pattern; understand the subject.
I know I missed some things and that this list will continue to grow because I‘m still processing what happened in 2020 and what it means and that meaning will no doubt change in time. But one thing is sure, this past year will be memorable and we will tell its story for a long time. This COVID year reminds me of the truth in what the great Joseph Campbell said, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”