January 9, 2021

Coming Home to Ourselves in 2020: Lessons in Survival & Hope.

2020 has been a blur.

The year went by in a daze. All I remember is being cooped up in my house, my room, waiting for days to pass.

The days passed by for sure, leaving the residue of uncertainty. Every day, I would collect that residue and begin the next day.

Days converted into weeks and weeks turned into months, and I saw life change its format with each passing second.

What was familiar, known, comfortable, and routine slowly became a thing of the past.

Anxiety, worry, irritation, sadness, frustration, and an endless wait became the new normal. For once, I could see everyone searching for one thing in unison—hope.

Hope for a better tomorrow.

Hope for relief.

Hope for freedom.

Hope for safety.

Hope for a stable, secure ground to stand on.

Amidst this endless wait and the never-ending search for hope, I realized that there were so many other things under the surface that had begun to surface for each one of us.

We weren’t just trapped in our homes. We were trapped in our own realities that we had gotten so good at ignoring, forgetting, or avoiding.

I realized that the biggest thing that we humans take for granted is our health.

The pandemic created this enormous wave of fear, uncertainty, and a threat to our existence that forced us to take steps to preserve our physical and emotional health. A step that should have always been on top of our priority list.

Sadly, so many of us had always considered our health a luxury, that we couldn’t afford to work upon, maintain, or care for. Perhaps, we needed a jolt to push us out of our slumber and clear the misconception that we will always have time to take care of the mind and body later because by the time “later” arrives, it would be too late.

It made me aware of the fact that for us nothing trumps survival.

Even when we were too busy trying to hold onto our work, finances, and relationships by a thread—our mind and body were fighting for survival.

When the need for survival kicks in, it makes us resort to our primal behaviors. We would do anything and everything to preserve ourselves—even if it came at the cost of another’s life.

There were many instances where I thought that people were being selfish or inconsiderate toward others. But then I realized that everyone was just in survival mode. Instead of helping and supporting each other, so many people got into a reactive mode of blaming, accusing, and isolating anyone who seemed to be a threat to them. Even if it was their own friend or family member.

All everyone was thinking of and engaging in, was survival. Nothing more, nothing less.

Perhaps, that’s why 2020 saw so much anxiety, panic, fear, and agitation. Everyone was fighting to safeguard their own comfort and security.

It also led to the end of many relationships, which had begun to seem like a threat to our well-being. It made me ponder upon the nature and strength of human relationships.

2020 pushed everyone over the edge. It made us come face-to-face with all the excuses, ignorance, and avoidance we constantly live with.

It made us realise that we are excellent storytellers! We tell these stories to ourselves about how perfect things, our relationships, and lives are—only to come to terms with the fact that there is no perfection.

Everything is already broken. We only make efforts to piece them together to make our realities more livable.

I realized that nothing lasts forever and that time can seem endless, no matter how quickly it passes by.

Time does pass. It surely does fly! And when it does, it takes away a lot from us. Sometimes, we realise it, and sometimes we don’t.

It slowly erodes our patience, strength, courage, sense of comfort, and stability. Within seconds, it turns our lives upside down. A life that we would like to believe that we have complete control over.

Time can leave us broken and vulnerable.

Until we are ready to piece ourselves together again. And then, as time continues to pass, it starts throwing these crumbs at us. Crumbs of patience, hope, revival, survival, and optimism. Then, it also gives us more time, to gather ourselves up again and restart.

I realized, that while 2020 left us scared, anxious, and vulnerable, it also gave us new perspectives, directions, and hope for a better tomorrow.

We’ve now stepped into 2021—a new year with all this hope, optimism, and lessons that 2020 taught us.

It taught us to be patient and wise.

It made us respect our minds and bodies in a way that should always have been so.

It made us acknowledge and accept our realities.

It made us change what needed to be changed and preserved what needed to be preserved.

Most importantly, it brought home the fact that at the base level, we are fighting for survival—at all levels.

We need to feel safe and secure in our bodies, relationships, experiences, and our environment.

The pandemic brought us home to ourselves.

That’s been my biggest lesson.


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