Yesterday’s blog post made me think about the pandemic, and the last sixteen-and-a-halfish months (but who’s counting?). Then I came across a quote this morning, that also made me think: “Forget the mistake. Remember the lesson.”
And it made me realize that out of the catastrophe that was 2020, there are some really valuable lessons we can take with us into whatever comes next; and that I hope we — myself included — do learn them, hang on to them, remember them and live our lives going forward accordingly.
I have had countless conversations this past year — with friends, clients, former colleagues, family, Facebook friends, virtual strangers while I was getting my COVID-19 vaccines and probably a few others I’m forgetting. I don’t think I’ve ever talked so much — or listened to so many other people who also had a lot on their minds — in my life before. Which, in itself tells you something — which is a topic for another day.
And what I’ve discovered is, we’ve all been doing pretty much the same thing.
Each in our own way, and in our own time, we’ve been reflecting and re-evaluating, questioning and changing. Or maybe evolving is a better word. I guess it’s different for each of us. The point is, we’re all going through a similar conversation that we’re having with ourselves.
It’s not a surprise, really. How could we not after what we’ve been through? It’s been so unprecedented, so unexpected, so dramatic, so consequential, so surreal, so monumental it can’t just be shrugged off, at least I don’t think so. It’s not possible to be unaffected or unchanged in some way.
But first, just think about it for a minute. Globally, in real time and simultaneously, we’ve witnessed — and sat helplessly — as millions of people lost their lives. In the blink of an eye. Millions of people. Gone. And even worse, they died alone. I cried over total strangers dying, because the thought of anyone dying under those circumstances was just more than I could stand.
It didn’t matter how rich or poor or young or old you were, how important you were or where you lived, the rules were the same for everyone. There were absolutely no visitors permitted.
In many cases, dedicated, compassionate, selfless nurses and doctors held the hands of dying patients or held devices aloft so loved ones could say good-bye. And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough we couldn’t even honour their lives properly. They were buried with virtually no one there to pay their final respects. Because funerals were also restricted. And loved ones had no choice but to mourn privately, without the comfort of having friends and family around. No hugs, no sharing of memories, no company. Nothing.
Birthdays were spent alone or on Zoom. Same with holidays and other milestones. Countless jobs have been lost, so many businesses forced to close down. None of us knew what hit us and we’re still uncertain about what the future holds or what it might look like.
So is it any wonder we’re questioning and re-evaluating? Asking ourselves what’s really important. Thinking about what really matters. The question is, will it last?
I’ve certainly spent a lot of time looking inward and it’s been interesting and enlightening. I have a new appreciation of the difference between “need” and “want” — and I’ll tell you, they’re nothing like they were a year ago. My priorities are vastly different. I don’t think I’ll ever take anything or anyone for granted again. I’ve become a lot more accepting, I’ve learned to forgive which, by the way, isn’t easy — but so worth it, because I am at peace with a lot of things that really bothered and upset me in the past — and no longer do.
Honestly I’m not sure I would have gotten there without this pandemic. Partly because of the tremendous upheaval it caused — not to mention the comeuppance the whole world got. And also because there was nothing to distract me, there was nowhere to go and I had all the time in the world to think and do a lot of soul-searching.
Which is the exact point I’m trying to make.
Something good can come of this crisis. If we remember this moment. If we learn from it. If we continue to be more reflective. If we continue to be grateful and to include others in our prayers. If we continue to ask for — and be happy — with less and with giving more.
If we never forget how fragile life is and what a precious gift it is — and why what truly counts is what we do and how we live right now, at this very moment.
I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance, including this pandemic. That’s why I believe we’re at an inflection point. We have a big opportunity here. I wonder what we’ll do with it.