Even those who have had beautiful experiences this past year know that overall, 2020 sucked. We have had very hard lessons to learn and been very hardheaded (and hardhearted) about learning them.
There has been so much loss and sadness. Over 343,000 American lives have been lost to Covid, and deaths worldwide are at 1.81 million. And counting.
Many livelihoods and incomes of the 98% have been lost or are on uncertain ground. Racial inequality is screaming for justice. Hate groups are burgeoning. Our democracy is being attacked from the top down and way too many are either looking the other way or outright supporting it. Something as simple as facemasks—for the common good—have underlined a major schism rather than been an unequivocal (and easy) part of the solution to a devastating pandemic.
In many ways, 2020 is reminiscent of a simplified version of the Middle/Dark Ages, which included the bubonic plague, the Crusades, and Feudalism.
But this post is no history review (and I surely wouldn’t be the one writing it if it were). Rather, it is my chance to share with you my “word of the year.” My word for 2020 (are you ready for this?? It’s a hoot!) was play. Hahahaha! Guess the joke was on me.
But enough 2020…now is the time to look forward and strive for better things…which is why my word for 2021 is renaissance.
From the first time I studied the Renaissance in history class, I was hooked. A rebirth for learning and a love of the arts? A desire to question and create and a belief that humanity matters? Count me in.
Yes, it is more complicated than that, and there are aspects of the period that I don’t embrace, but for the sake of what I want to share here, let’s focus on renaissance in the most basic of terms: renaissance as rebirth, revival…renewal.
I want…need…2021 to be the beginning of a physical, cultural, intellectual, political, spiritual, and personal renaissance.
A rebirth of health and hope for one another. A reconstituting of our communities so that solidarity and diversity not only exist but rely on one another. A re-embracing of science to protect ourselves and our earth. A rebuilding of our systems to create equality and justice. A re-examining of religion that focuses on living out one’s faith rather than using it as a weapon…and a renewal of self and purpose that supplants the feeling of “untetheredness” that has overwhelmed me this past year.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…that’s a pretty tall order for a decade, let alone a year, but…we have to start somewhere, right? And why not right after a year that has taught us so much about the things we need to change? The term “inflection point” has become a buzz phrase for so many issues we face because this is indeed a time where significant change can happen—if we push for it.
So I’m pushing for it. Come on, renaissance!
But while there is much work to do in the wider world…I’m pretty sure my renaissance needs to start with me.
There are many personal things that 2020 has let us see with very different eyes. Our cloistered worlds have helped us learn what and who really matter in our lives…and what and who don’t. It’s put a ton of choices in front of us and given us the opportunity to “redecide” or reassess what about our “former” lives we want to have as a part of our “new” lives—and what is better off left as a memory.
At least for me, I know I need to be purposeful about these changes and not just let life morph into “whatever.” A few of the things that 2020 has helped me see more clearly include:
—My forever arch-nemesis Poor Time Management has been winning many battles, and I need to get off my ever-expanding tuckus and create a structure that helps me to win the war (or at least win a few battles here and there). This renaissance requires energy and effort—and PTM is like a vampire sucking those two commodities right out of me.
—Something as simple as hugs have renewed value to me. Once social distancing no longer needs to be a part of our safety protocol, look out, people. This Italian is coming for you with wide open arms.
—I have also been better able to assess where my efforts are best put, and things like one-sided relationships…where I’m the side doing all the reaching…are perhaps not the best use of my energies. Better to spend it on those relationships that see me as worth reaching for, too.
—I still need more play in my life.
These are but a few of the personal aspects of my renaissance that I can make choices about—there are many more that are part of the mix.
Yes…2021 can be the start of so many wonderful changes and choices…but it first needs the belief that these changes and choices are possible—that they are within Hope’s reach—and Hope, at least mine, has been under assault for several years now.
So perhaps that is the best place to start. 2021 is bringing hope—however tenuous—for positive change, and we need to grab hold of it for dear life and go where it leads us.
We are not done with the darkness, and we never will be—but we can’t afford to be hope-less. Not now. Not ever.
So come on, 2021—shine a light for us at the end of this dark year and lead us into a renaissance of health, hope, healing…and love. And may this be just the beginning.