The year 2020 is going to stand out in the memories of all those who are old and sane enough to have memories right now. It’s a year that we will not forget for a long, long time, most likely never. And history will remember it for so many different things, most of them unpleasant.

Twenty-twenty will also be called all kinds of names — the year of the great pandemic, the year of global lockdown, the year of online classes and work, the year the Olympic Games were postponed, the year the air became cleaner, etc. All these names are memorable in different ways and carry different lessons for us.

There have been many bitter moments and some rare joyous ones. But there are lessons to be learnt from all the experiences of 2020, and let us focus on all the positive learning experiences to take something good into this New Year.

So for this reason, rather than focusing on the gloomy, dark days under the shadow of the coronavirus, let us look at what it has taught us about life, ourselves and the world around us.

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Nothing is constant

We all know that change is the only constant, but we tend to forget that. It took the world coming to a standstill and our lives changing beyond our control to make us realise that nothing is constant. Let us not forget this.

Being able to accept change is how we survived 2020. We all had to give up our normal lives, hobbies, jobs, studies, activities, plans and so much more to sail through the challenges in 2020.

Many did is readily and were able to design a new normal for themselves and make the most of the testing situation. But there were many who were not able to handle it well, who didn’t strictly follow the SOPs required to keep safe from Covid-19, and who couldn’t find inner peace at home, cut off from others, and they suffered.

Accepting change and finding a place for ourselves in that changed scenario is what we should keep focusing on even when things, hopefully, get back to some kind of ‘normal’ soon.

The fittest survive

Health became the centre of everyone’s focus last year, and a change in the calendar doesn’t change that because the Covid-19 virus is still thriving in 2021 as it was in 2020.

Most of us take our health for granted when we are healthy and fine. But the pandemic has taught us that this is when we need to be very focused on our health as it is our immunity that will safeguard us against illnesses and help us beat any virus.

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So in 2021, eating right, exercising and good hygiene practices should continue to be our focus. And along with good physical health, our mental health is as much important because being stress-free and having a positive outlook can bring us out of any situation.

Focus on now, not tomorrow

Many best-laid plans disappeared into thin air last year, showing us that we can’t control our future. We have only ‘now’ to live in, so make the most of it rather than waste it in dreaming of tomorrow that is not in our control.

A lot of people, with their proactive and positive attitude, decided to make the best of what they had — which was basically a lot of time at home — and did a lot of things that they never had time for before or never thought of trying. New hobbies were taken up, new skills were learnt, new connections made in the absence of face-to-face interactions and we all learnt to either study in a new way (online) or work in a new way (remotely, online).

The good part was that most people stood up to the considerable challenge all these things threw at them, and this is the approach we need, always.

It is our willingness to face challenges head-on, like the Covid-19, that can make us fit to live our lives well. We can’t anticipate the future, but we can train ourselves to face it bravely when it arrives.

Connect and reconnect

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“Connect’ and ‘reconnect’ were two terms that we were all dealing with on everyday basis in 2020, though it was mostly linked to our internet connectivity since that was how the whole world moved.

But I am using these here in relation to our relationships with others, both in our immediate surroundings, such as friends and family, and with the rest of the world. The need to stay connected with those who are at a distance and to form better connections with those who are near us, became clearer to us in the lonely and sometimes life-threatening moments of 2020.

Due to spending more time with our family at home, we were able to give time to each other, to do a lot of things together that we didn’t have time for before, and bond together more meaningfully. This has helped to enrich our lives and this should continue in the years ahead. We must continue to give time to our family even when the world starts moving at its earlier pace, leaving us busy with a lot on our schedule. Family is important, let us not forget that.

Last year also made us connect with so many different people that we would not have gotten to know had we not given up life as we knew it. These could be people who have always been around us but we paid little attention to, like our neighbours, or those we wouldn’t have known had we not spent so much time online. Let us carry on these meaningful connections into 2021 and learn to bring some cheer into others’ lives.

Life goes on …

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Yes, life goes on even if we don’t go to school or office. Life goes on even if we do not have a big celebration on our birthday. Life goes on even if there are no big family dinners on festivals. Life goes on even if there is a wedding with a handful of guests. Life goes on even if there are no movies being screened in theatres. Life goes on even if we don’t change out of our pyjamas. Life goes on even if we don’t get to eat our favourite burger or ice cream for months. Life goes on even if someone falls ill. Life doesn’t stop, so we shouldn’t too.

We must make the most of life as it goes on, rather than focusing on how it is not going on the way we want it to. Embrace all that life has to offer. Learn all the lessons it teaches us. And as life will not remain the same always, this time too shall pass — and this is the best lesson we should carry forward into 2021.

A very happy and fulfilling New Year to you all!

Published in Dawn, Young World, January 02, 2021

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