As early as last week, I started hearing and reading references to how much 2020 “sucked”, and that folks couldn’t wait for the year to be over — so that we could all march into 2021 and forget about this year. It made me ask two questions —
- was there anything good that we could take from 2020 as we welcome 2021?
- how was 2021 going to become ‘magically’ different for us at the stroke of midnight on December 31?
I guess I wasn’t alone in noticing the emerging negative tone towards 2020. On Monday, my long-time twitter friend, @VegyPower messaged me to say that she had an “idea for the #SpiritChat conversation on Dec 27”. We talked over the phone, and sure enough, she was thinking about the “silver linings” amid all the storms that we experienced in 2020. Hence, this week’s topic was seeded.
After my phone conversation with her, and as the week progressed, I did not have to think too much or too deeply about my own silver linings from 2020. For that matter, perhaps you won’t have to look too far to find them either. To begin, it may be helpful to ask some questions that invite us to reframe, refocus and revisit our perspective of 2020. For example, if you could take three positive ‘things’ forward from this year, what would they be? My suggestion would be to pick one ‘thing’ or ‘set of things’ each — for mind, body and spirit. Write the ‘things’ down on three sheets of paper. Add some bits of poetry, some doodles, or some photos, and maybe even create a “2020 Silver Linings” board. If you feel like it, now share your board with friends and family — who knows, it may inspire them to do the same.
It is easy for the human mind to forget, to want to forget pain, and painful times. I often hear and read that most of us are attracted much more to pleasure than to pain. Hence, we tend to want to fill our lives with experiences that bring smiles, laughter and Joy. And yet, it is pain, suffering and death on an unprecedented scale that brought the best minds of Science together in 2020 to design, test, manufacture and distribute, not just one, but multiple vaccines, in record time, to fight the pandemic. In my mind, this ‘coming together for a common goal’ is surely one silver lining from 2020. I am sure you can think of many more.
Now, about the second question — how will we use the silver linings, and even the dark clouds that we experienced in 2020 to continue to create better versions of ourselves in 2021? I haven’t seen my Aunt, with whom I have spent many a Diwali, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the past, at all this year. I picked up the phone and called her in the evening on Christmas Day. The phone rang a few times, and I was composing my voice mail in my head, when she answered. She had just returned from Christmas dinner from her son’s home and some wonderful family time with her three grand-daughters. We talked about the year, and about the year to come, and she was all excited about the second vaccine dose that is she is to receive in mid-January. But that wasn’t all.
As we talked about 2020 and 2021, she said that she had spent a lot of time doing ‘spring cleaning’ in November and December. She had found a “folder” full of something, which had items that went back to 1967 – fifty three years ago. She asked me to guess what may have been in that folder? The best I could come up with was — “maybe they’re some kind of letters.” Close enough, she said. For the next hour or so, she then proceeded to tell me the story of the ‘long-distance romance through letters’ that happened between her husband-to-be and her while she was in India and he was in Canada. It was quite a story, which I had heard for the first time — and I’ve known her for 34 years.
Why do I tell you the story of this conversation? After I hung up the phone with her, it made me think of silver linings and the remarkable story that I had just heard. It also made me ask – what are the stories that 2020 has uncovered for us, from which we can learn and remember, so that 2021 can benefit from them. Will we remember stories of pain, of love, of joy, of suffering, of hope, of giving, of receiving, of tears, of laughter, and treat them all alike? Or will we choose to forget them, only to re-discover them in our heart’s folder many years, if not decades hence?
The lesson of 2020, for me to remember, is that every moment of a fully lived life is a silver lining unto itself. What will you remember?
P.S. Join us for a special conversation with the #SpiritChat community on 9amET / 730pm India, Sunday, Dec 27 2020 on twitter. My gratitude to @VegyPower for the inspiration for the topic (and some questions!). If you cannot join us in the hour, I wish you the best for the New Year. Namaste ~ @AjmaniK
If we look closely enough, there are silver linings everywhere…