2020. I feel like that four-digit number could be my entire blog post and it would convey just about everything that any of us are thinking or have been thinking for almost the past year. But alas, what fun would that be?! So despite me having a whopping zero ambition to write anything this year, here is my last ditch effort at some self therapy because right now I need it.
This past year has brought out the best and worst of pretty much all of us. Everyone has varying opinions. Everyone is a *&^%$ expert. And believe me, whatever you believe I guarantee you’ve found the “news source” to back you up (myself included). But all that aside, I’ve been really, really trying to figure out what this year has taught me. Because if you live through a “pandemic” as it’s so called, and don’t learn anything than what was the point.
Now I remember in the beginning of all of this I was pretty much in denial about anything. Restaurants closing? Yeah right. Schools closing? Oh hell no. Masks?? Are you kidding me?! I also remember thinking this would all be short-lived, so mentally, it seemed that if we just followed the famous “this too shall pass” motto, we’d be okay. And yet, almost a year later here we are. Nothing’s changed. Businesses continue to close. Families continue to remain estranged. Kids plow forward with “eLearning,” whatever the hell that even is. The elderly continue to remain isolated and all alone. People continue to get sick. And while there’s a glimmer of hope with this vaccine, who knows how long before it makes its rounds to the common folks like the majority of us. So really not a whole lot has changed since back in March when the “fear” began to spread across the country. So in essence, we have lost an entire year of our lives. And for what? Because hindsight is now literally 2020, right?
This year I’ve experienced loneliness that I never knew existed. This year I watched my kids grow up without friends, without school, without the essentials of what it means to being a kid. This year I watched my dear, young friend die. This year I experienced a funeral without hugs, without family solidarity, without the laughter and story-telling of what, to me, makes a funeral bearable. This year I experienced more friend and family estrangement than I ever imagined possible. This year I simply missed living. And I think it’s safe to say that that applies to the majority of us.
The other day I was in a store and I received a very nice compliment from a stranger. Nothing over the top (so I could almost believe it) but just an out-of-the-blue old-fashioned compliment. I think it’s been a long time since I received anything nice like that from a stranger and on a day that I was feeling so down, in a year that I’ve been stressed and just really freaking sad…. this random act of simple and free kindness just made me feel damn good.
So in the year of the ‘Rona, I decided I honestly don’t give a damn what we should have or could have learned because really isn’t it all obvious anyway? At the end of the day amongst all the rules, and the choices, and the varying opinions, there’s one thing that matters – Kindness. Simple, ordinary, free, kindness. We’re all angry. We’re all sad and lonely and crave human connection. And all of that is okay. We’re allowed. It’s part of being a human. But we’re still all capable of kindness as well.
In the words of my favorite author: “‘We must be kind, Peter, to everybody around us. We must accept and forgive – there is so much to be forgiven in each one of us. If you learn to love everything, the humblest, the least, the meanest, then the meanest in you will be loved.’” – Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
As groundhog day continues into 2021, as we knew it would, I urge everyone, myself included, to just put forth that tiny bit of extra effort to be kind. Give a stranger a compliment. Write your elderly relative a letter. Let the world know you’re smiling under these God awful masks. Because we could all use a few more smiles.