2020 is coming to an end. But isn't 2020 just a number? A number that initially looked quite balanced and appealing. Yet as we lived it, we soon realized the truth to 'don't judge a book by its cover'. With neither balance nor appeal, 2020 felt chaotic and extremely emotional.
As this number comes to an end, I wonder if the uncertainties and hard times it brought with it will also cease to exist. From the looks of it, it doesn't look like it. 2021 may just be a sequel to 2020. Isn't even 2020 a sequel to a much, much bigger story... our history.
I am having trouble finding words for this year as a business owner, teacher and mother. It's a big mush of things.
And as I sort through it all, I see simplicity. Simplicity in my days, in my surroundings, in the people around me, in the connection to nature, daily family meals. Less obligations, less driving around, less errands to run.
I also see complexity. A new way of living. Working from home. Using technology as the main way to work and connect with each other. Missing family weddings, births, birthdays, holidays. And for some - experiencing tragic and unfair deaths of loved ones. (I cannot pretend to know the pain and agony one must feel of losing a loved one in the midst of this past year. If you have felt this - I pray for you and my heart reaches out to you. There are just no words...)
A paradox is when we are met with two conflicting sides. The paradox of 2020 does not escape me.
As a business owner...
I experienced rejection, failure, loss of finances, loss of clients, fear of shutting down.
I also realized a strong sense of community through the clients who stayed, the ride or die ones, the people who supported us through words and actions. Because of the extreme duality of it all, the latter was felt so deeply in my heart that I often found myself crying with gratitude during prayers for each and every one of my students and families.
As a teacher...
I experienced a ton of insecurity and fear. Can I still connect with my students in the same way? Is the lack of physical connection too much to thrive though this? Will they still enjoy their online class experience?
I also realized a much deeper connection with my students than ever before. We are seeing each other every single week during a pandemic. An unforeseen sense of bonding evolved through this awareness. I noticed how some of my dance students even thrived more online because they felt safer to express in the comfort of their homes; without the pressure of a class full of eyes staring at them in person. I noticed each face more deeply. We connected even more through meaningful discussions and shares that we we would have never experienced otherwise. Physical distance gave birth to deeper inner connections. Feelings were felt more deeply. Dances were danced more emphatically. Ironically, the increase in physical distance, decreased the space between our hearts.
As a mother...
I felt pressure, guilt and a huge sense of overwhelm. I played the victim story over and over again in my head . What will happen to my only child's social life? Will she fall behind in school? How can I suddenly re-vamp my daily routine to accommodate her needs?
I also got to live with my one and only daughter in the most intimate way this year than I could have ever imagined. She helped me see how creative we can be. She made me realize there is no race. There is just life. And she helped me see the wonder in our new daily routine of story times, crafts and nature walks. And when I found out that I was pregnant, my heart and soul filled with even more gratitude for this uninterrupted time I was able to receive with my 5 year old.
As I write this, I am not blind to the excess of resources I have in my life that permit the luxury of self-examination, gratitude and reflection.
Whether we are aware of it or not, this year has forced many of us to really get to know our inner selves. The consciousness of our humanity rose to new levels this past year.
In therapy, I unpacked many things about myself. One of the biggest things that I realized about myself is that I love control and I resist change. I am organized, schedule-oriented, goal focused, and addicted to productivity. When something tries to shake up a routine I have mastered, I unravel. I feel crippled. I feel like giving up. I often do mind-numbing activities. Getting out of bed becomes hard for me. I experienced all of this during 2020.
I also learned that change is inevitable. Nothing ever stays the same. We all know this one right: I have no control over life, only my reaction. I thought I understood this but this year taught me I still had much work to do in this area. I truly have no control.
The wise know there is no control. Weather teaches us this. The nature of life is to keep changing. We are not meant to know the next moment.
This year needed to teach me how to surrender even more. I needed to see how empowering it is to surrender. I now have a very different relationship with change. I see that when I resist change, I make my life worse. However, when I do the brave act of surrendering, I accept and find new ways. This knowledge has guided me immensely this past year.
Change does not mean everything you have known or worked for disappears. Thinking like this is what initially created numbness and inaction for me. Until I realized that surrendering to change actually amplifies who I am even more. For instance:
Even though my routine has changed, my discipline and will power to create and stick to a new routine has not.
Even though my schedule has changed, my long-examined priorities and beliefs can still guide me to create a new one.
Even though my goals may need to be re-prioritized, my ability to follow through with them is still there.
And in regards to productivity: have I even taken the time to examine my addiction to productivity? Is this something I chose or is this something I blindly accepted when I stepped onto the auto-pilot escalator of life and society.
Surrendering to change, forced me to learn the power of taking everything one step at a time. I learned to see the simple act of getting out of bed as a successful & 'productive' day. A few days later, taking a shower became a win. And then slowly but surely, I was able to create a new routine & set new expectations that honored the new times in which I was living.
Barack Obama recently spoke of the importance of being comfortable with resistance, without the need to fix it or change it. He shared that a life full of paradoxes can indeed be lived with comfort and acceptance. (If you haven't listened to Brene Brown's podcast with Barack Obama, I strongly recommend it.)
As this year comes to an end, that is how I feel about 2020. A paradox - full of resistance and change.
I know if you have read this far, you too have found a way to live within resistance and change. And I hope you take a pause to notice that and commend yourself for that.
I hope you take a moment to recognize all that you have done.
You have honored perhaps the greatest paradox in your lifetime. And that is no easy challenge to live through... to thrive through.
When you can create a space that exists in the middle of two opposing sides, you have created your greatest transformation. And that journey can only result in one thing - phenomenal human beings. You are a phenomenal human being.
I hope you leave this year with a crazy sense of pride in your resilience and courage. I hope you take a moment to honor our ancestors who have had to survive and thrive through their own paradoxes.
We are currently writing humanity's story for our past generations, present families, and the future of our children's world. 2020 has made us realize how incredibly powerful, innovative and creative we are. We have figured out a way to create new light in midst of much darkness...
Let's hold on to that light within each of us as we embark upon 2020's sequel. I hope and trust 2021 will be better. BUT even if it isn't, I have a stronger faith now than ever before that we will always find a way to create new, examined roads for us to walk through with intention & togetherness.
... as we continue to write humanity's story.