The year 2020 has been a turning point in the course of human history, like never before! We all know how our lives turned a full 360 degrees ever since a dreaded virus started spreading its’ tentacles from a remote province in China, whilst we were busy making plans for the New Year in January.
Fear and Uncertainty Grips Us
In February, people felt a little unsure as the virus started spreading far and wide. In March, the pandemic began to gain strength, as it continued to spread even further, way beyond what we could have ever anticipated. There came a time when we all realised that the enemy we were fighting was way more powerful than we were ready to believe or accept. Schools and offices shut down. Economic activities came to a halt. Travel came to a standstill. Businesses folded up and major world economies suffered huge setbacks, almost verging on the brink of collapse. The human race buckled under this tremendous pressure. Nothing, absolutely nothing, remained the same anymore.
Social distancing left us “stranded” in our own little worlds. Matthew Arnold’s famous lines became a reality—
“Yes! in the sea of life enisled / With echoing straits between us thrown / Dotting the shoreless watery wild / We mortal millions live alone.”
Learning to Cope
After a series of severe anxiety and panic attacks, we realised we had no escape from what had unleashed upon us, globally. While precious lives were lost on a scale that was totally unprecedented, we fell back on our resilience, tenacity and that indomitable inner will to cope as best as we could, in order to survive the curve balls that life threw at us. Every single one of us struggled to survive. It felt like we were all living through a nightmare that had no end. All we prayed for, was the strength to keep fighting as we lived from one day to the other. I often found myself wondering if I’d even emerge alive from the other end of this pandemic year!
The New Normal
We did falter and stumble but it was amazing to see how people supported each other through the worst that was to come. The dark times, everyone said, were here to stay. It was a hell of a lot of learning for everyone. I doubt if words will ever suffice for me to put down everything that I learnt in this one single year of my life. Now, as we are beginning to accept this ‘new normal‘, most of us feel a deep sense of gratitude for the countless blessings that many of us have had through these challenging times. Not many were as privileged.
Learnings from the Year 2020
A huge learning curve is what I saw, as I traced my steps through the months that have rolled by since the month of March. The lessons that came to me brought plenty of heartbreaks, tears and undoubtedly, a lot of wisdom too. The only way I looked forward to my days were by focussing on the positives around me even though everything and everywhere I only saw pain and suffering and loss. Most days, I lived inside my head, starting my day with a guided meditation, and then timeboxing my hours into slots that not only helped me juggle my various roles, but also gave me the inner strength to motivate the family members, who were equally struggling as I was, to cope with life.
So, here my #top10learnings from #2020 :
#1 Deep breathing helps, when surfing through the uncertainties of life, particularly when facing panic attacks and that butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling. One learnt to accept that while the situations were not in our control, our responses were.
#2 Taking care of one’s energy levels matter as much as food, sleep and exercise. It helps one in staying calm, collected and balanced through the roller-coaster rides of life.
#3 Prioritising oneself matters. Be it practising self-love and self-healing, enjoying the much-needed me-time and putting oneself on one’s priority list, especially when one is juggling multiple roles on any given day.
#4 Accepting the things we cannot change —This has been the mother of all learnings. It may be easier said than done but acceptance really does pave the path for inner peace and growth. I needed multiple reminders and constant practising to follow this on a daily basis.
#5 This one has been extremely important—not putting off essential things for tomorrow—By far, this has been my biggest motivator through the pandemic. I’ve got back to connecting with people who matter and cutting off those who don’t, in a more intentional way; I also picked up singing again after a rather long break of 20+ years; I started working on my dream projects—of a podcast and starting a youtube channel on poetry readings. The unseen future was no longer a guarantee.
#6 Practising mindfulness through the day—be it while spending quality time with family and friends or while enjoying a quiet time in the early mornings, or even while at work, and while pursuing the passions that one loves to pursue. Mindfulness does create the channel to allow abundance and manifestation of all that seeks to achieve.
#7 A major breakthrough for me was learning to utilize dissatisfaction to express my creativity and turn it into something beautiful—Thanks to art, music and writing, I kept myself away from fear-mongerers and horrifying statistics, which allowed me to create that much-needed peaceful place, quelling fear and uncertainty. This helped me keep everyone in the family (which includes my husband Jay, son Arjyo, my ageing mom and yours truly) positive, anxiety-free and stress-free through the odds.
#8 Realising that technology can be our biggest support system in these trying times—ensuring uninterrupted online classes for the teen who takes his board exams in a few months from now, to letting the spouse continue his work with his virtual teams spread across two major locations, and letting me connect with my work and friends across right down to helping my septuagenarian mother connect with her siblings in another city at the other end of the country.
#9 Finding that we don’t always need gurus to show us the path—as all of us carry within our souls, the light of inner wisdom that sees us through the darkest of times.
#10 Most importantly, through the highs and the lows, one learnt to be open to embrace change and be willing to accept the messages that the Universe has been sending out to us. I’ve learnt to live in the present, drop my emotional baggage, let go of what I no longer need to carry within my soul; and to open myself to ‘receiving’ with more abundance. I think most often we fail to observe that the Universe is showing us all the signs that we need to see. We lived in denial, but no longer so.
My learnings from the pandemic continue well beyond the ten best listed above. In fact, there are many life-lessons that come knocking at my door every day—some, that I am prepared for and some, that I’m not ready to face. To be honest, they do leave me scared, unsure and panicking, by turns. Real palpable fear, you know.
The Future Ahead
Today, as I look back on the year that we are about to bid adieu, l realise that 2020 has been our greatest teacher, because, not only has it changed the very fabric of our lives from the inside out, but it has also made us realise how utterly vulnerable we are, as a human race and yet, how eternally delicate and short-lived our existence is.
The fact that our existence seems to dangle by a thin strand of hope, even as the pandemic shows no signs of leaving, makes me wonder if life will ever come back to normal—the normal, that we left behind since the beginning of 2020. Today we live in hope. We dream in hope. We wake up to face the inevitable every morning, putting our best foot forward, albeit, a little unsure of what awaits us tomorrow. Today is gone. Tomorrow is another day. If we’ve learnt our lessons today, perhaps, we might succeed in making our lives more meaningful, and purposeful in the coming days.
As to whether the lessons will be learnt or not…well, that’s another story, for another day.