• Bliss Wood

Hindsight is 2020

With February 2021 in full swing, and Valentine’s Day just around the weekend corner, there’s hope on the horizon, yet I’m looking back on a year that many would rather forget.

Why? Because the rearview mirror is an important guide to gauge how the journey will take us forward. Reflecting on the past, can inevitably offers some answers, and thus give us 2020 vision.

Two-thousand Twenty: the year of the Coronavirus, the year of political chaos, the year of sheltering-in-place and wearing masks for safety from something we can’t see, and ultimately, it was the year for quiet, personal contemplation. It’s no doubt the lingering effects of last year have affected our physical, psychological and emotional health, and I dare say 2020 brought a focused attention on the spiritual well-being of many as well.

I’ve heard comments throughout the year like “I want a do-over” or “can we just forget this year ever happened”. It was the year where smiles disappeared either behind masks, or they just left altogether from the hardships of these past 12 months.

Even still, in the beginning of 2021, businesses and schools are still closed, people are still wearing masks and the threat of the virus is still with us, albeit the vaccine has been helping to quell fears and inoculate some of us. Newscasters and magazine articles are sending messages of cautious hope, saying it’s time to look to the future, but “still wear your mask”, while the gossip threaded throughout communities across this world tints the “truth” (whatever that is) with their own understanding of what they’ve experienced during this last year.

Life as we know it, has changed. There’s nothing truer than that! Outwardly, it would seem that last year achieved records for death, destruction, political polarization, and pain beyond measure. There probably isn’t one person on this planet whom COVID-19 hasn’t touched.

I’ve known friends and family members who’ve experienced the virus in different ways. Some were extremely sick, others had mild symptoms, and others were never sick, but found out they were carriers for the virus! Yes, some even died. Yet, I can’t help but look back at this past year, wondering what it was all about, contemplating my continuous question, “What's good about this?"

Everything happens for a reason, so what is the reason for the coronavirus? Why was it an epic and historical boogie man? Maybe looking back can shed a few answers, or perhaps, philosophical questions to contemplate. After all, hindsight is 2020, is it not? (Yes, pun intended.)

As the outside world came to a screeching halt with orders to “shelter in place” with businesses shuttered and families forced to stay away from one another for fear of getting sick…or worse, I found myself alone in a safe, yet constricting cocoon that threatened to suffocate me. Experiencing the abrupt slow-down of last year was like finding myself in one of those dreams where I’m trying to run, but feel like I’m standing still. You know the kind!

As the world shifted into slow motion, my mind finally “gave up” struggling against the stillness. In its surrender, I began to recognize myself; my thoughts, my emotions, my fears, my desires. “Who am I” and “What really matters," those existential questions, constantly floating just beneath the surface of collective, fast-paced consciousness were now front and center in my mind, constantly slapping me in the face.

I think I can honestly say, this has been the strangest, most emotionally and financially devastating, loneliest, and yet, most connecting and liberating year of my life. As painful and at times, enlightening as this year has been, the world, my personal world, has been awakened among the myriad of crises and conflicts that our globe faces.

In the face of our world’s forced slow down, beyond the outward signs of chaos, what have you noticed? What habits have you become aware of and changed? Have you made more of an effort to connect with your family and friends? Did you change your diet to support good health? Did you begin writing that book you’ve always wanted to write, or end that relationship that wasn’t good for you? Maybe you finally emptied that “junk drawer” in the kitchen, or even cleaned your house from top to bottom!

More importantly though, have you truly gotten to know yourself? Have you forgiven yourself or someone else who needs forgiving? Do you know what REALLY makes you happy? Are you living the life you’ve planned? If not, how can you start the shift in that direction? What is your purpose and how can you help others?

I’ve been asking myself these questions all year long. The answers are layered and intricate and at times, elusive and difficult, but nonetheless, they’re revealing and they help me to “clean house”, redirecting my world to a more contemplative, honest, kind, and simpler existence.

And that, my friends, is the gift of 2020, at least for me. What gifts and insights have you received in that unprecedented year?

Crossing the New Year’s threshold and having inevitably stepped into a new world, with “the year from hell” in our proverbial rearview mirror, now what?

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