Can 2020 still be a year we want to remember?
today at 7:24 am
With all that’s going on across our country, it’s hard to think straight, let alone be mindful, present and grateful for each day (or whatever your meditation app of choice is telling you to be).
As I recently learned in my daughter’s book about planets, we don’t feel the earth spinning, because we are spinning right along with it. Time is passing us by. We are getting older every moment of every day. And that’s not just some “Ugh, I’m over 30 and I wish I was 25 again” sentiment – I mean literally every human comes a step closer to the end of their life every day. (I didn’t mean for this to become so morbid, so quickly, but we’re here now so let’s just go with it.)
It’s now early June. How many of us have let the world spin beneath our feet the past few months while we grapple with change or loss or sadness or anxiety or stress? If you’re like me, time has been flying – and not in a good way. So how do we make 2020 a year worth living and not just a year we wish we all could forget?
First, let’s back up and acknowledge what’s happening right now. On the one hand, we have a global pandemic that’s left many people jobless, mourning, or dead. On the other, we have protests, riots, and violence that are a result of years of oppression and social injustice that’s also left many Americans, well…jobless, mourning, or dead. We know the two topics are inextricably linked since the former incurs more damage on people of color than it does to white people. And the protests could potentially result in the further spread of COVID-19. It’s not exactly easy times.
These are tough, really tough, societal issues that we can’t control as individuals, unless you are on the frontlines (and to healthcare workers, peaceful protest leaders, community activists and all those working for change, we applaud you!). If you’re not on the frontlines, you can still do your part, and we all should. I can wear a mask when I’m supposed to and social distance, and you can do more than post a black square on your social media. We can educate ourselves, about both COVID-19 and institutionalized racism. And we should!
But for me, the big questions, the big thinking that’s required to wrap my head around these society-wide issues that have taken over so many aspects of our lives, are often moved aside to deal with smaller questions. And so I’m sitting here, just a few minutes after putting my daughter to bed, with a myriad of these relatively small questions running through my mind…Should I go get tested for antibodies? When is the plumber coming? What are we doing for childcare next month? Should I re-watch that movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg? It was kind of cheesy but also I cried at the end so…everyone should just watch it. #RBG4Life.
Big questions and small questions. Big problems and small problems. Big wins and small wins. This is what life is made up of – a series of questions, decisions, wins and losses that will lead us to say 2020: a year to remember or 2020: a year to forget. The problem is, with all these things to think about, 2020 has made it really easy to push aside the concept of “being present” in exchange for thoughts of better days and a brighter future.
As humans, we already have a tendency to forgo the here and now for the future. Whenever I have X, Y or Z (more money? bigger house? Louboutins?) life will be great. And as parents, our minds always jump to the next task – prepping for the next meal, for bath time, for soccer practice etc., all the way up until the kids go to bed, when you can get a little reprieve – or maybe you’re just washing dishes and prepping for the next day then, too.
When my daughter was a wee babe and our world was flipped upside down as we learned how to be parents, my husband made up a ridiculous (genius?) song.
(set to an upbeat tune)
Getting ready for tomorrow,
We do this every day!
Every day is yesterday,
When you’re getting ready for tomorrow!
Now that our daughter is a little older and we have a handle on what it means to be parents, as well as how to make time for ourselves when we need it, we don’t need that song to make us laugh at the sleepless craziness anymore. But, we sometimes still need reminders that today doesn’t have to roll straight into tomorrow without a second thought.
So, how do we stop focusing on the memories we wish we were making, without losing the hope that comes with planning for post-COVID and, hopefully, post-racism life? I really don’t know the answer. But I think part of it will be shifting some of our hopes and dreams that we had for 2020 to new or different hopes and dreams. Maybe smaller ones. Maybe 2020 is the year that changes our mindset, overhauls our priorities and makes us grateful for what we have right now, rather than harping so much on what we might have in a year, or two years, or 20 years from now. Whatever happens tomorrow, I know I’ll be trying my best to not let 2020 slip away into oblivion.