New Year, New Hope
Have you seen the message doing the rounds on Facebook? Something along the lines of “Hello 2021, come in quietly, sit down and don’t touch anything.”
About sums it up doesn’t it? As many of us have watched 2020 slither out of the back door, there has been a certain amount of trembling trepidation as 2021 strides in the front way.
I have had it easy. I spent much of 2020 either sitting on my terrace with the ocean stretching out before me, or being looked after in hospital by wonderful people who couldn’t do enough to make me comfortable. I found a peace in myself that I have rarely felt for so long or so completely. Being someone who has struggled all my life with anxiety and depression, I have finally felt at home in my own skin.
That isn’t to say I haven’t been shocked, overwhelmed and afraid at times, on behalf of myself and others. I just found, behind that, a more or less abiding ocean of calm that I could access more readily than I could before. I know how lucky I have been. Believe me, my heart goes out to those who have lost so much in the past year that the ground on which they stand seems that it will never be solid again.
Watching the virus apparently rob people of their lives or their livelihood has been terrible. The grief and despair is not to be underestimated. I don’t know anyone who isn’t exhausted, at least at times, as we all face changes we never expected or wanted. I hope those in the eye of the storm find comfort.
The only real down side to finding some peace for me has been infinitesimal compared with so many and takes the form of a fear that I will lose my newfound calm and fall back into an old familiar sense of pointlessness. When my son and his girlfriend announced that they were being tested for Covid and then that the result was positive, I felt those icy fingers of fear tie a knot in my very substantial belly.
Christmas was weird and, looking at the options, I decided that, being on my own, I would treat it as just another day. I have never liked this time of year anyway, but for the first time in many years I wasn’t actually depressed. On WhatsApp, my son and his girlfriend showed me the full-face snorkelling mask they have bought me for my Christmas present and I showed them the few gifts I had for them. They were tired and they coughed a bit, but we laughed a lot and the day after Boxing Day, they called me to say they were still tired but no longer feverish, and feeling well enough to go for a walk. They had done their time and were Covid-free.
Oh relief. And gratitude. I know it’s not the same for everyone. I am not underestimating the awfulness of many people’s existence… not having a roof over your head, in fear of your life from war and famine, or overwhelmed by loneliness or pain.
I know many of us are tired and often afraid, or covered in grief, but human beings are incredible. We are resourceful and inventive. I am reminded of HIV and Aids. That was the end of the world just a few years ago and is now a very treatable condition that people live with.
There is a vaccine coming that so many people have their hopes pinned on, and there are newer and better treatments for the virus being developed all the time. It seems to me that amid the suffering , in a few short months we have learned so much that could make the world a better place for everyone.
I wish us all relief from suffering. I wish us compassion. Compassion for others, yes, but compassion for ourselves more than anything.
Instead of New Year resolutions, my hope is that we will find some time not to list our regrets or self-recriminations, not to catalogue where we need to do better, but to honour our courage, to celebrate our magnificence and to nurture our hope.
Welcome, 2021, and in the words of the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness, “May all beings be happy.”
A big love and many, many blessings to us all in 2021