It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.—C. Dickens A Tale of Two Cities—
I see you, Dickens. What’s more—I feel you.
Peaks and valleys, chutes and ladders, y’all.
We have run a myriad of gauntlets in 2020, always expecting another pillar of rotating spikes or set of swords shooting up from the floor, but often without seeing a finish line or a reward for such a perilous journey. Maybe it’s more like Bill Murray’s situation in “Groundhog Day”—no matter what way the day begins, it ends disastrously, only to lather, rinse, and repeat when the sun rises, unsure whether to wear a raincoat or a suit of armor.
I’m sure all of you can say something similar as you peek over your shoulder to see 2019 shaking its head dejectedly, like Eeoyre when he’s lost his tail, or stare down the final 94 days of this continual tumult, wondering what level of Dante’s Inferno is next.
I don’t ever like the phrase “new normal,” because none of what 2020 has served on its buffet of global and local dumpster fires is “normal,” and I’d like a refund, if possible. Here’s what I do know, as I search for my receipt for this year:
Exhaustion is a real thing that occurs in abundance during these days, and it rears its ugly head in the form of short fuses and disheveled inner landscapes that can’t wait for it to be five o’clock somewhere…anywhere, so we can shuck off our adulting layers and melt into the cocoon of our couch or bed.
However, it is permissible to admit that we need rest, in whatever way brings up our emotional and physical battery levels to fully charged.
Anxiety is a real thing sneaking into the playbook of our days, and it steals away precious minutes of peace, causing us check our to-do’s, and add up more didn’t-do’s than we have fingers and toes. We are not sure what the next day, week, or month will herald in. It’s like an inner March Hare, always late for an important date—frantically clasping our pocketwatch.
However, it’s also okay to leave some of the list for tomorrow or not have all the answers right now—much of what lies ahead is still unknown, so deal with the “now,” instead.
Loneliness is a real thing that nags at the corners of our hearts, and it makes us try to cling tighter to those other over-worked and under-rested humans in our lives, even if we are six feet apart or six states away, just because silence seems deafening. What we are left with is a whole lotta “me” time that isn’t always therapeutic or productive; instead, its listless and distracted.
However, it is also only natural to crave human connection, but it’s also good to have time apart—we just have to know how to use it well, instead of in a melancholic mindset.
2020 has sure brought those three feelings to the forefront of my days, and I’d like everyone to know that, if you’ve had any (or all) of them, too—-you’re not alone.
It may have been more difficult to conduct life as usual, and not all liberties we previously enjoyed are able to be rekindled in the same ways, but that doesn’t mean we are totally devoid of joy.
I’ve been wondering lately: If this is the “worst of times,” how can we get back to (or look harder for) “the best of times”?
At work, we were given a Self-Care Bingo to play, and one of the boxes reminded us to write down things we were grateful for. I think this is a great start to rewiring our minds to focus more on joy. I began the year with a gratitude journal, but as we collectively came down with a case of the 2020 blues, I left it on my nightstand.
It’s time to put pen to paper again, even more encouraging when we near the season of Thanksgiving. Yes to turkey, but an even bigger YES to our blessings.
I have a sign that hangs in our living room that says, “The Best Is Yet To Come.” It used to hang someplace less prominent before this year, but amid the first bout of quarantine, I moved it to the forefront of our home. It’s my way of reminding myself and my family that, though we may be walking through the valley of the shadow, there is much more to come. Brighter things, kindreds.
I’m reminded of a very important set of verses in the Bible that say much the same thing. These are my favorites among the lot.
No matter what befell me, as a young girl, my Gram would always offer up this platitude: “This too shall pass.” I think she simply wanted to remind me that I was going through a season, but that it was not permanent.
So, here’s where I make a resolution I hope I can keep:
I plan to make the end of 2020 the best to come.
What if we all worked on this together? There’s still time to write the ending.