The past 12 months have been a year of non-stop headlines, corona virus taking the center stage. The year started with the bush-fire in Australia, Ukrainian plane crash, Prince Harry and Meghan stepping off from Royal duties, death of Kobe Bryant, WHO declaring Covid-19 as global health emergency and on March 11,Covid-19 labelled as pandemic, oil prices hitting record low, super cyclone hitting eastern India and Bangladesh, Pakistan plane crash, George Floyd and the global anti-racism movement Black Lives Matter, the US election in which Americans voted president Donald Trump out of office, the first vaccination for Covid-19 and finally the Brexit deal getting done. 2020 has also seen some unfathomable losses, the list of artists and great personalities who left us this year has been long.
The elements of our life were invisible until this pandemic forced us to take steps back to actually see them through our mind’s eye. There has been a lot of talk on social media about 2020 being a ‘write-off’ year. Our human tendency for predictability often leads us to believe that if it is not something we planned for, we strike it off. I believe there is much to be carried forward with us into the New Year. As we countdown to 2021, I reflect through the pages of the calendar of the year 2020.
When the first news of Covid broke off in this part of the world, all we knew was that there is a virus in China. I can bet on this that not many imagined that the world would change drastically. We believed that the virus would lose its strain or the spread would not be this dreadful. But in no time, we started seeing spike in the number of people in UK and Europe being affected on a daily basis. Even before we realized the severity of the pandemic, we were all locked within our own houses. The whole world came to a standstill. Busy cities were quiet, offices were empty, shop shelves vacant due to stock piling and trains, buses and flights were stranded.
Starting of the lock down, it all seemed fine. From a traveling job and living life out of a suitcase, it suddenly started feeling like a long relaxed vacation. It felt like a blessing, as it allowed families to spend more time together. Families and couples who started living together 24/7, like mine, during the lock down discovered newer and at times surprising elements in each other. Things which were earlier ignored or over-shadowed started becoming more apparent. Sometimes we annoyed each other; sometimes we disagreed, sometimes, the brutality of this pandemic frustrated and depressed us but in the end I was fortunate to have someone at home to deal through the uncertainty, whilst many struggled in loneliness.
Soon we realized the importance of socializing and meeting friends and colleagues. Digital technology came as a savior. Initially I thought I would not mind the rules of lock down, isolation, deprivation of meeting in-person. But with time, I started missing the normal which I had unknowingly taken for granted – like shaking hands, chit-chatting with the people on way to commute, hugging my friends, travel for work and pleasure. Yet, this crisis has also shown me human being’s extraordinary ability to cope, adapt, and learn. I realized just how creative and resilient humans can be when our lives – and livelihood – are on the line.
This year, UK had seen a beautiful summer, I can’t remember when we last had such perfect bank holidays without rain spoiling most of the plans but we had to enjoy the sun from our own gardens and balconies. Some found time to indulge in physical fitness but for me, I lacked the motivation and had an excuse that the fitness centers were closed for most times of the year. However, I sat hours on my Yoga mat contemplating various thoughts that usually clouded my mind, mind Yoga?
For most of the year I was and am still very grateful, I have a job which allows me to work from home, protecting myself and my family. When we were asked to work from home, I had heaps of complaints – my apartment seemed too small and there was barely any home-office arrangements. But over the last months, I have learnt to enjoy my makeshift home office as much as much as my real office.
We often have different coping mechanisms when faced with a crisis. My coping mechanism has been to go into complete overdrive mode. For me, I found peace in writing which I love the most. Can’t deny I love it when people read it and appreciate, who doesn’t? Perhaps it is a way I try to explore myself more than trying to gain any sort of popularity as another wannabe-writer in the block. Scribbling down thoughts has helped me make peace with some of the most troublesome incidents of the year. Seeing people suffer, being in pain, losing jobs, losing loved ones, fighting over religion, racial discrimination, exercising power over another has many a times made me utterly disturbed. It is my way of trying to make sense of certain senseless situations. As we come to the end of the year, I observed we all are all doing what we can to cope and sometimes doing nothing is a way too.
I won’t make a verdict whether 2020 was bad or good to me. To the world, it was definitely dark before the light. An unintended but positive consequence for me has been that I could spend time in deciding things that I want to do and those that I no longer want to do. Usually being on a hyperactive work mode, I had my diary full of work, which meant I’ve never really sat down and considered what’s important to me in more than a superficial way. Finding some stillness in my own life has meant that I was able to be more present for myself.
I agree that much of human interactions can be lost due to online meetings, but while we move into 2021 and having explored the possibilities of technology I think smart uses of digital technology is underestimated and we prefer to live in denial. I hope that most of the benefits of digital technology, which were forced to be the only way in these tough times, will be retained even post-pandemic.
Amidst the heart-breaking losses we experienced, we somehow became more hopeful and more helpful than ever. The emotion that was stirred when I opted as an NHS Volunteer responder in my area, cannot be expressed in words. I am sure many never knew that a simple gesture like clapping for Carers, NHS staff and other key workers dealing with the corona virus pandemic could bring so much tears.
Finally, the biggest uncertainty has been what happens to all the love and friendship and responsibilities we bear towards people and families, this pandemic will not allow us to see? This year, I have seen new friendships emerge, old bonds have renewed themselves and some unfortunately fragmented. Some bonds could pass the test of time and the distance made no difference while few have taken a back seat with the pandemic bringing new highs and lows in life. Perhaps, a pandemic is what we needed to really know true bonds that lasts a crisis. For they are there, waiting for the storm to end and a new day to start.