For most of us, 2020 will be memorialized as the year that changed the entire landscape of our world. Things we never imagined to close down, did. People we never thought twice about not being able to meet have become socially distanced. The normal has mutated into a new version of normal that none of us could imagine in February, but have grown accustomed to in December. But, along with the disruptions and uncertainties, life remained. Not only did it remain, but it is also more treasured today than ever before. I came up with six things I have learned to cherish in 2020.
I remember “time” in the pre-pandemic world as a depleted resource that everyone was wishing they had more of. And then when COVID-19 hit, we suddenly felt like we had all this time at home we didn’t have before. We spent our days in lockdown fearful of what was outside our home but enjoying the little moments no longer having to be stolen. Families learned to sit down and eat together. Time and energy were spent trying new recipes, baking elaborate desserts, and having homecooked meals. Time was spent with the family in the evenings, playing games, reading books, and watching movies together. There was time to revisit old hobbies or learn new skills. We had time to sightsee distant places from our phones and the time to take online courses offered free by many universities and institutions. 2020 has really rekindled my love for the gift of time.
2020 has taught me how to cherish relationships both near and far. There used to be a time when it felt like those who were far became close while those who were near felt distant because of social media. With all of the life-changing events that have taken place, it is indeed our families who have become our partners through the good and bad. As a mother, I have learned to value my time with the kids at home. Though many times overwhelming, it is still rewarding to have my children at home with me. I eat breakfast and lunch with them every day. They tell me about all their “at school” moments—partly because I am here all the time. We have definitely grown closer and tighter during this year. On the flip side, I yearn for the day I can travel and meet the members of my family who live far away. Taking a short flight or driving four to six hours used to be so easy, but now seems complicated and maybe even dangerous.
This year many of us opened our eyes for the first time when we saw the horrific murder of George Floyd. For many of us, it felt like an awakening to a socially unjust reality that many of our neighbors and friends had been living with all their lives. One of the things I have learned to cherish in 2020 is the act of having humility. To shut up and listen. Listen and learn. To take a giant bite out of the humble pie and be schooled. Learning to unlearn past stereotypes and judgments. To unload misunderstanding and prejudice that had become habitual. The humility to say “I didn’t know” and “I’m willing to learn” has opened my eyes and heart to change. And this has been a cherished lesson this year.
Can you imagine what life in quarantine would’ve been like if we didn’t have the technological advancements we have today? If there was no Zoom or Google Classroom? If there was no social media or smartphones? No streaming services and on-demand cartoons and movies? Technology has come a long way since I was little. And 2020 has made me cherish all the advancements of technology because it connected us to everything we could not attain being stuck inside. Our lives are more dependent on technology today than ever before. Virtual schools and working from home are all possibilities today because of technology and I value that this year more than ever before.
I cherish my faith even more in this 2020 year. Uncertainties and anxieties have made me cling to my faith deeper and firmer than before. It is where my heart finds comfort and solace when everything around me seems to be a mess. For me, faith is the only thing certain in my life. It is a constant light that always leads me down a path to home. It reminds me not to become disheartened or hopeless. That this year, all of it, is part of a plan just like my life has been so far. I cherish prayer more. I cherish the world and the people who are in it. I cherish the changing seasons outside my window. I stare longer at the starry nights and get lost in the sunsets and sunrises. I take in moments and become mindful of how miraculous each one is. I am drawing in the small joys of life and allowing it to fill my heart with peace. And somehow all of these cherished moments strengthen my bond with my faith even more.
Life is definitely more cherished in 2020. The constant reminders of the pandemic and its effect on the entire world has made me value the fragility of life. I have found the true definition of what it means to be living and what it means to be alive. In actuality, right now, the lockdowns, masks, social distancing, and vaccines are all unspoken efforts displaying how each of us values life. It is our unifying mission—to preserve life. Life of not only our own, but to keep our families and communities safe.
We cherish those who are in the business of saving lives like doctors and nurses. We cherish those who are changing lives like teachers, scientists, and health organizations. We cherish those who are fighting for lives like movements, politicians and their policies, advocates, and journalists. And we cherish lives who are developing as mothers who are sheltering, nurturing, and educating our young. We also cherish those who we’ve lost in the thousands this year. It’s almost become primitive, hasn’t it? We are living in 2020 trying to survive the elements to make it to the other side. Life seems much more cherished these days when we are fighting off wildfires, hurricanes, injustices, racism, hatred, political divide, killer wasps, exhaustion, and a pandemic.
2020 started off with a lot of hype and hope. None of us could’ve predicted what has unfolded this year. But all of us have become stronger in some way and more resilient because of it. We are all survivors of our unique circumstances. And as a survivor, I have learned to cherish these elements in my life a little more. I am ready for 2021 and its cherished lessons, are you?