2021 was one hell of a year. But if you’re waiting for a sparkly new one, well, you might have to wait awhile.
An unrelenting pandemic. Shocking violence in the US Capitol. Devastating forest fires. Desert locusts. Murder hornets and the craziest, scariest year of politics anyone has ever witnessed. No wonder we’re jonesing for whatever will stop our brains from melting! It doesn’t seem to matter what the calendar says. From everything we see and read — Groundhog Day continues.
COVID-19 rages, once again, across the nation, though now disguised as the variant Omicron. Masks and mandates were ignored or fought against giving the virus a get out jail free card. Our brains were exhausted, often savings were, too and food insecurity was evident in our nation of plenty. In the face of all the grief, confusion, fear and disillusionment, we badly need to find the flip side – and hope it’s a whole lot better.
“What a heavy net is it, indeed, carrying as it does all the births, deaths, tragedies, wars, love stories, inventions, transformations and calamities that are destined for all of us this coming year.” Elizabeth Gilbert
Will 2022 be the turnaround we need or — just another magic trick? In a country where a 2-year pandemic is still a runaway train, every day is a challenge. Vaccines are here, but Omicron proved that our COVID testing supply was caught with its pants down and availability has become more like a stagecoach than an Acela. We are realizing that though this new variant maybe weaker in scope, apparently so are our masks. N95’s are the coveted remedy, but it’s also short in stock and high in price gouging. It will take a while, probably quite a while, for us to live ‘normal-ish’ again. And if we continue to set virus forest fires by still living large instead of adhering to pandemic social distancing, masking, vaccination and a decent helping of common sense, it will set up housekeeping permanently.
We all want our lives back, not just those who strip off masks in hissy fits in Walmart. Until we get the simple fact that what hurts one, hurts all, a spanking brand new COVID free year will be a long time coming.
What do we do in the meantime when often the smallest positivity can be a heavy lift? I find myself swinging from yearning for family hug marathons to being resigned to the admittedly comfy nest of my house. What if we did committed to a reset, something out of the box and outside of ourselves? How about a little New Year Nengajo? Cousin to our Christmas cards, this Japanese custom is a nifty new year way to show gratitude to friends and family who’ve looked out for us, were kind and helped us during the shitshow year we just put to bed.
“When you see a new year, see realities and limit fantasies!” Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
After a year when everything was unpredictable, fatiguing and endless, who the heck would think New Year’s resolutions are a great idea? Then again, why not? We make enthusiastic goals every year that, sooner rather than later, get littered by the side of the road and then their demise depresses us more. Who needs that pressure? Why not, instead, call them ‘intentions’ and lose the stress of not ‘succeeding’? It’s never been about the finish line, but the ‘intent’ anyway.
Exercise more? Absolutely. Eat healthier? You bet. Get organized? Yep. Explore new hobbies. Save money. Get more sleep. Read more books. Whatever it takes to live well in a fraught time like this, go for it. Sometimes, the best way to center ourselves outside our own bubble is to focus on those around us. How many spent the past year alone and lonely? How many lost a loved one to the virus, cancer or so many other illnesses that plague us even in COVID-free years? Thinking beyond “I” to “we” is the one everyday intention we all need going forward.
“How we handle what’s ahead of us will be determined by what we learned from everything behind us. For if we learned nothing, what’s behind us will be the exact same thing that’s in front of us.” Craig D. Lounsbrough
Living through a pandemic has been a nasty wake-up call. More than ever before we felt the inability to change our everyday circumstances, let alone the trajectory of a rampaging virus. Still, we made promises to be productive, kinder, more aware. And even when we lamented our inability to ‘go somewhere’ or ‘do something’, we innately wanted something ‘real’, something that makes a difference. It wasn’t the fact that we gained weight or didn’t bake bread during quarantine. It was that we often missed changes we might have made to make the tiny world around us a little brighter.
A pandemic sure is a great equalizer. Sickness and death reach into every pocket of humanity, regardless of luck or money. Tucked within our worlds of curbside pickup, GrubHub and Amazon Prime, we find it hard to envision our own offerings. But, as we help one another, from simply wearing masks and distancing to food assistance, even an ear or shoulder to one another, we help the world become a healthier, better place. Like the Butterfly Effect, everything we do affects everything and everyone else.
“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” Goran Persson
We’ve only tentatively taken a few baby steps into 2022, and already our feet hurt. How we will ever travel to year’s end, when every day is basically a crapshoot? Like every other year, some days will be exhausting, some exhilarating, but most just ‘a day’, a chance to be your best self even when you’re completely alone. Set your ‘intentions’ – loosely. Do less doom-scrolling and more positive thinking. Laughter is always in order – do that. Express gratitude — or Nengajo for the good we have because far too many others are not that fortunate. Stay in the moment.
2022 is here to stay. Have at it.