January is a month for reflection. As the New Year begins, we tend to look back and evaluate our previous year while looking to the future, eagerly anticipating what the forthcoming year may hold. January is a month of hope and is full of promise as the year is waiting to begin and our resolutions are still fresh and our motivations strong. There’s something comforting about having this ‘clean slate’ at the start of each new year! And yet, we’ve now said goodbye to a particularly challenging year. A year that most of us are glad is over but we remain uncertain as to how different this year will or can be. When will things ‘get back to normal’? Will life ever get back to what it was before corona?
Many people have experienced devastating loss in 2020 – the loss of beloved family members or dear friends and colleagues, or the loss of businesses that, no matter how much energy, dedication, love and commitment was poured into them, they couldn’t survive. People were literally staring death in the face and/or watching their livelihoods slip through their fingers and there was nothing they could do about it. Front line health workers, too, worked overtime, barely even able to catch their breath and probably still felt that they couldn’t do enough. Helplessness and survival seem to be two key words when looking back at 2020…
There are no easy answers to the numerous questions that surround this January. This January, although still holding hope and promise of a kind, is very different to the January’s of previous decades. 2020 affected ALL of us; it was global, international, universal and all-encompassing for millions. This pandemic has affected nations as well as communities, both large and small. So, is there anything positive at all to be gleaned from 2020? I’m no Pollyanna and I’d rather not insult those who have truly experienced tragic loss and hardship – but the only possible glimmer of something positive that the rest of us can learn from last year is perhaps understanding how incredibly closely connected we all actually are. Whether we live on separate continents, speak different languages, come from completely different backgrounds (economically, socially, culturally or otherwise), we’ve all been affected by this pandemic in one way or another. Hence, perhaps the most useful tool we have is to think of the ‘ripple effect’ that our own behaviour can have on others; to become even more mindful of the impact that a kind gesture, positive thought or even just a smile on our part can have on someone else, possibly even brightening up an otherwise very dark and difficult day for them.