While a good part of the world still wrestles with COVID-19, New Zealand paid its price early with lockdowns, job losses and compulsory working from home. Now, we are able to live lives of relative normality, albeit without international tourists and the money they brought. Despite our country being one of only a few COVID-19 success stories, there are still plenty of New Zealanders ready to hate on 2020 and classify it as the 'worst of years'.
Admittedly, if you were in love with the old, 2019 normal then 2020 will not have been good. But, that old normal is gone - and it's not coming back. What we are doing now is creating some new sort of normal - a 2021 that isn't a carbon-copy of 2019. 2020 delivered us the opportunity to reinvent aspects of our lives both individually and as a society.
That is not to minimise the personal tragedies that 2020 brought, including sickness, loss of loved ones, loss of employment and general hardship - all of those things were real and painful enough. Life delivers a constant diet of crap breaks - even the British Queen had her "annas horribilis" a few years ago. It's part of the human condition; no one is immune.
What was unique about 2020 (in my experience) was that we all got to go through the crap at the same time. In New Zealand, that got most of us onto the same page, singing from the same song sheet (as it were). As a society, we all got to do daily life differently and we found that we could - without our world coming to an end.
There was a 1960's West End show called "Stop the World - I want to Get Off" - perhaps our 2020 felt like that. But, wrapped up in that show, was a song "Once in a lifetime":
"Just once in a lifetime
There's one special moment
One wonderful moment
When fate takes your hand
And this is the moment
My once in a lifetime
When I can explore
A new and exciting land"
2021 and going forward, is our 'new and exciting land'. The year 2020 and a pandemic have delivered our once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine our future; both individually and as a society.
|The first day of 2021 - still clouds, but the sun is breaking through|
Perhaps we don't see it; perhaps the silver lining to this cloud is still invisible to us. But one thing that seventy-odd years of living has taught me is that looking back, I would not wish away any of my life's personal disasters (and there have been a few). Each one has lead to a new tomorrow. Each one is a part of who I have become. Each one has been indispensable to my 'today'.
So, 'worst year ever' or was 2020 your 'once in a lifetime' opportunity? I think we each get to choose which one we are going to fly with. I know which one I am choosing.