Finding Beauty In The Past Year
Yes, there were some silver linings in 2020.
Life — a four-letter word that just can’t be defined. It is equally beautiful and tragic, monotonous and exhilarating, full of pain and full of joy. The only thing I know about life is that change is the one constant we can depend on, and we should always expect the unexpected. Just when you think you have it all figured it out, it is sure to throw you a curveball that hits you where it hurts most and you’re back to feeling vulnerable, lost, scared or a strange combination of all three.
But somehow, somewhere along the way, many of us will learn to look for the valuable lessons in the pain, and we will cling to the clichés our mothers taught us — like “this too shall pass” and “in pain there is growth.” We will learn pain really is a stepping-stone to growth and that if we focus only on the negative we will indeed be dragged down alongside of it. So, we find another way. We look for the positive, we rely on one another to get us through dark times, we laugh through the tears and we open our hearts to the one thing that heals all — love.
The year 2020 has been one of complete upheaval of life as we knew it. We have graciously rolled with the punches (what was the other option?) and proven that resilience is deeply rooted in human DNA. During the time of complete and total division in our country, we bonded in a way —whether we knew it or not. COVID-19 memes brought us together on social media. The experience of living through a pandemic and a lockdown bonded us, too, as we have lived the stories that will go down in the history books. We used this time to better ourselves, appreciate the small things and enjoy the underlying silver linings of life in a pandemic.
In an effort to stay positive myself, I have been asking others about their quarantine silver linings. I was flooded with beautiful, touching stories of new family traditions like daily Zoom calls, active group texts that brought about daily full-belly laughter, neighbors going from strangers to best friends, and the special healing power of a family pet. Here are just some of the things we learned to cherish in 2020.
The small things
“During the time that our country has been impacted by the coronavirus, I came to appreciate how special ordinary life can be. One day, I experienced a jolt of excitement when I noticed, outside of my bathroom window, that one of my garden tomatoes had turned from green to red! There was a new pace to life that seemed to encourage this attentive perception.” — Chrissy, 50, Connecticut
“When I first heard of the coronavirus shutdown on March 17, I was elated. A vacation from my upcoming obligations was a welcomed thought. Dentist appointment? Canceled. Annual physical? Canceled. 2019 tax filing? You guessed it, canceled! 2020 resolution to return to the gym? Also, canceled.” — Nan, 72, Connecticut
The love of a baby
“Right at the start of the COVID pandemic, my little sister and her husband moved in with us out of Santa Cruz. Their baby girl was born on Feb.1, 2020. Through these months of (mostly) staying inside with them and canceling all of our major plans, we have gotten to simply enjoy their company. Getting to watch this baby girl grow each day and to learn every little nuance in the start of life has been more rewarding than any other outing I had prioritized beforehand.” — Michelle , 30, California
A second chance
“My quarantine gift was the extra time I was given to spend with [my son]. For the first year and a half [of his life], I was suffering from postpartum depression and was therefore robbed of really enjoying life as a first-time parent. Today, I am able to be home with my little one, and I look forward to the day, regardless if it’s a good one or a tantrum-filled one. I’m a mom who can handle tantrums, wake up excited about the day, and be a productive member of my family!” — Catherine, 41, Connecticut
“I learned a lot during the quarantine. I learned how to: make a bandana mask; understand a new language (i.e. British) — thanks to many hours of binge-watching Brit Box I can now understand the English accent; color my own roots for $7.95; use Zoom and stay in touch with family via texting and social media; smile with my eyes at the grocery store; and appreciate the simple things in life like health, family, quiet moments and prayer.” — Eileen, 68, Massachusetts
“This pandemic has given me time to reconnect with my family, particularly my parents. I learned that we thoroughly enjoy watching the crime and mystery shows on Netflix. We ended our days with an episode of Criminal Minds and Law and Order: SVU on Netflix. I’ve realized that my family and I truly are amazing detectives as we try to piece the mystery together with a touch of both humor and serious detective skills. These nights of crime-solving fun with my family will be something I cherish and look back upon for years to come!” — Rohan, 19, Virginia
“I’d say the best thing that happened to me through the entire crisis was being closer with loved ones. We communicate more through virtual means and we touch base more frequently. This whole episode does make you realize the fragility of life and how it can be taken away from you in a snap.” — David, 34, Maryland
“My silver lining from the pandemic has definitely been developing patience and becoming extremely good at self-motivation. I spent most days in a panic not knowing what to do for hours on end, but was miraculously able to keep my days full by taking my time to do everything. I now know how to entertain myself without all of the outside stimuli I used to rely on to get through each day. I am a nature lover now, too. I hike, can run miles on the pavement, shop online and walk my dog for hours. Oh, and a big thank you to my friends at Walmart and Target, which never closed! I have a new appreciation for all of the resources I had taken for granted before the lockdown.” — Kathryn, 48, Connecticut
And as for me, well, I have many-a-silver-lining from 2020, but having these conversations sure does stand out as one of the best. I’m in awe of the greatness that was discovered during 2020 — even when it felt like everything around was crumbling. We didn’t know it right away, but we were given the gift of time, and it sure is precious, isn’t it?
We stopped rushing. We had no choice but to stay in the moment and change our expectations. We f*&#ing rocked this year and we did it together. We made the best of it. We seemed to notice more, to appreciate relationships, and to feel gratitude for the time we had to do these things. We must have dug deep to get here because it wasn’t staring us in the face, that is for sure. But in doing so, in finding these silver linings, we just may have learned a better way to live. Next time you are feeling down and out, ask someone else about their silver linings and then observe the joy and greatness in their discovery.