2020: Let’s Celebrate Survival

Hello friends,

I know that this year has, as remarked by nearly everyone with a social media account, been relentlessly disappointing – it is the gift that hasn’t stopped giving. We have all had and lost plans and more importantly, some of us have lost people. This year has struck us in painful ways.

Personally, I have had some triumphs this year and other intense lows. As is typical of my type A personality, I did a mental tally of my year, wondering if I had achieved ‘enough’ this year. Had my transition from 25 to 26 been productive? It occurred to me after about ten minutes of a mental spiral, that there were other things that could matter, that do matter much more. If I simply bothered to give my attention to the right details of my life, my whole reality could change.

I got very ill in April and though my COVID-19 test wasn’t positive, my doctor believes that was because I was tested too late. I spent the bones of two weeks in bed with a fever, migraine and cough and almost six weeks in recovery from the exceptional weakness of the virus. That was the beginning of steady spiral into the awkwardly familiar land of post-viral fatigue. Thankfully (if I am grasping at straws for gratitude), this was a game I am well used to playing from my own past with viruses (Lyme disease etc.) and by September, I felt much improved.

This experience was one I was quick to shake off and minimise when others asked how I was feeling. Deep down, I knew deep need to not be defined by another illness was because I felt as though I had wasted some precious 2020 minutes to a pandemic. I could be focusing on my own, far more important achievements.

Well, beyond the fact that I, writing this, and you, reading this, have survived this historic year in one piece, there is much to celebrate. This is our own firework celebration – a celebration that we most sincerely deserve. So, pull up a chair and let’s watch our survival shine in bright lights across the sky.

Leaving COVID-19 aside, 2020 has been a tumultuous year across the globe and a plethora of human rights issues have been raised and stayed to the fore of our minds, no matter where we live. If you have managed to stretch your capacity of empathy and compassion beyond your previously comfortable bounds, you deserve recognition. If you have had uncomfortable conversations with your loved ones, you deserve recognition because those moments where we admit that we do not know it all and the world we live in has far to go, are not easy. Remember, we must celebrate small progress, not condemn everyone moving at a different speed.

If you have faced the daunting reality of our changing climate and still understood that your own, daily worries are valid and of value to you, then you ought to be proud of the strength of your own mind to balance the micro and the macro of your life and the world. The US presidential election matters, social issues matters – but so does your new obsession with Dawson’s Creek. (Side note: If that was a little niche it’s because I am directly addressing myself here.) When we begin to remove labels such as β€˜good’ and β€˜bad’ from our vocabulary, we have the capacity to care for all people, all causes, all tasks with a forceful, tireless passion. It is trying to fit into the hierarchy of importance that has exhausted our global consciousness as we struggle to unite on obviously important issues.

If you have broken social distancing, not worn a mask or thought that the pandemic could not possibly last this long, it’s time to realise that that is not always foolishness, despite what the angry mob on Twitter might say. It is hope and the world needs those who hope. Honour your feelings. Honour the dread you may feel at the thought of paying your rent along with the existential dread that this year has demanded from us. Both are valid because you are valid. Forgive yourself and realise that in a world without β€˜shoulds’ you would not have to forgive yourself at all.

Perhaps this year has brought you to your knees and you laugh at the concept of having survived in one piece. If so, I want to take this opportunity to bow before you and acknowledge how hard it is to remain consistently strong in a world that demands an endless supply of giving. I hope you can progress and let down the heaviness of this year in time. For now, I will hold the pride for you, for your life until you can bring yourself to carry that torch for yourself because by God, you deserve it.

Let’s celebrate what we should of 2020. Let’s acknowledge the laughs and the cringe-worthiness of this year that arrived in the form of Zoom quizzes and drunken nights indoors. Our going-out shoes may not have gotten a lot of use, but I think we all will have asked those around us how they were doing a whole load more. It is not an equal or comparable trade, but in the grand scheme of world kindness, it counts. Appreciate this time in loungewear and whilst also appreciating that you can declare this year as shit as you want and no one will argue.

Perhaps the joy of this year, if there is any to reclaim, is that we were all united, regardless of any of the divisive issues that arose, we were all in one in this pandemic. We were all hurt, all damaged by the losses which have been plentiful. If anything ever will, this experience should unite us as humans and help us to recognise the only fundamental truth worth our time;

We Are All One.

We come from the same body, the same joined energy force. Separation from one another is an illusion to give us the experience of individualism and nothing more. Yet when we treat this illusion as fact, the rift between us, our differences, become heightened. The distance between our differing opinions becomes a ravine that appears deadly to pass. Linking minds and souls, uniting in love, is no longer the aim of the game. Instead, we became a species that label ourselves by our nationalities, races, religions and political leanings before our humanity.

This opinion of mine, that separation is a comfortable illusion that we have all settled in to, is none too popular with those around me. After all, isn’t this year proof enough that some of us are just so different that we will never see eye-to-eye? We have arguments over mask-wearing that seem to be minor in comparison to the arguments between those right-wing and left-wing ideologies. Still, I believe. I believe in our innate connection to all. I will enter 2021 with this belief and all years to come and I don’t doubt that it will serve me to look at every human with the potential for love rather than with an expectation of hate.

If you take one experience from this year, if you ask one more hurdle of your mind, ask yourself to live with the potential for love, rather than the expectation for hate. This may take some lengthy unwiring in your mind and more than once, you will catch yourself slipping up. Still, push through and try harder until nothing feels hard anymore and everything exists as love. The filter you view the world and your life will have changed and as a result, so will each outcome the universe hands you. Simply put; try.

Lastly and most importantly, if you do not know where to begin in this new year, still at the beginning of this new decade, reach out and ask for guidance. Ask those around you, those you love – strangers, if needs be. Ask me. Just do not begin another year fearing that you are alone when the opposite is true. No true loneliness can exist in a world filled with such beauty.

Have a beautiful holiday season, friends.

Jens x

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