Some might regard 2020 as the worst year of their lives. Dreaming of the good old days when things were normal. The good ol’ days when we could have friends and family over, and experience the fun that only restaurants, bars and stadiums could offer. I have begun to reevaluate this year. As I sit here alone in my apartment in the suburbs of Berlin I ask myself, “have I let the year slip by?” Did I make the most of this year or simply grovel over how awful it was? There was plenty of time to reflect on life this year, add new experiences, learn and grow and truly appreciate what I have. Did I do those things? My concern is that that it was quite the contrary. I wasted time, yearned for the year to end and was ungrateful. I guess I’ve managed to do a bit of both as I’m sure many of you have.
A Year to be Rememebered
Yes, 2020 has been a year unlike any other in our recent history. Walking the streets of Berlin I have often pondered how people here must have felt in the 40s as their city and community were ravaged by war, their young men were slaughtered on western and eastern fronts and their the German people were left disgraced. It’s true, it does feel as though the world has stopped spinning and our lives have been put into some sort of stasis. Similar to waiting in the longest line at Disney Land to get on a ride that we have no idea how long it will take. The struggle has been real. While some of us have been stuck with our families for longer durations than we’re comfortable with (something similar to Chinese water torture), others of us have been seperated from loved ones. And we grieve because so much time has been lost in our homes waiting for lockdowns to end. But despite all of us this, when it comes to where the world is headed after this year, I am an optimist. I am a firm believer that the future is bright and will now be brighter than ever before. The year of 2020 will be a significant turning point for humanity.
The year of 2020 will be a significant turning point for humanity.
Home Sweet Home
I arrived back home in November 2019 from Sydney, Australia thinking some down time would be good for me. Well, it was, but I didn’t exactly expect it would last an entire year. I wasn’t planning to stay long in my hometown of Victoria, BC, but I did. I had lived on my own for most of the last 2 decades, living mostly in Vancouver and Sydney. As I settled in to my parents’ home there were challenges as any living situation might encounter. Sometimes living with people in vastly different life stages and world views is good for us though. Once we got past our differnces we connected in ways we hadn’t for some time.
Time to Reflect
I think what was most challenging for me throughout the year was living in multiple timezones. Although I lived on the West Coast of Canada, I worked for an organization in Sydney and my girlfriend was in Nagaland, India. This was not easy. I felt myself being pulled in every directions, and I didn’t know what a normal routine or schedule felt like. My days would start at 8 AM some days. My girlfriend and I would chat and watch YouTube, and catchup. Work meetings began at 3:30 PM, but there were emails and work to attend to beforehand. Meetings would continue on until 11 PM some days. I managed to squeeze in a run or bike in between, mostly on Friday when it was Saturday in Australia. I got into a sort of rhythm, but I felt a wear on my mind, body and soul. To be honest though, the lonliness was the most difficult to endure. There was a lot of time spent alone with my thoughts. This gave me time for late night walks up into the mountains where my parents live and journalling — a habit that has refreshed me many times over the years.
Find Your Remedy
Aside from journalling and runing, travelling has always been a sort of last resort to refresh my mind. Originally I had planned to visit my girlfirend, but as lockdowns persisted I decided to go and explore on my own. My first stop: Germany. I have had infactuation with this beautiful country for some time. Having lived in Munich and Switzerland, and having German heritage myself, I am a huge fan of all things German. What’s not to like about the sites, the food, the people and the beer! It would not have been possible without a few friends from college who live in Germany who made some room on couches and floors for me. Reconnecting has brought healing and stability in my soul again. I had plans to also go to Poland and the Baltic States, but Covid has made going to other countries impossible without a place to stay. That’s been okay because an extended stay in Germany has meant I can enjoy my stay even more thoroughly.
Failure and dissapointment are more than often be the best way to learn. But we all still think we can learn without pain, failure and dissapointment. Our speicies is instinctive, but not that much. We often need to touch the flame before we realize it will burn us or have our bike stolen from the yard before we learn it’s best to just put it in the garage. Yes, that’s learning. And we are all learning from this year. Our world has been put on hold, and there isn’t much any of us can do about it. In the midst of that we are forced to learn to adapt. We have gained something of tremendous value in return for this. The pain is temporal, but lessons will be with us for the rest of lives.
Our world has been put on hold, and there isn’t much any of us can do about it.
I’ve had this wild thought lately. You know when you experience something, and the pain you endure while going through it is so excrutiating and you think that it might last forever? That’s how I feel about this year. It’s been painful being apart from my the love of my life, but there’s hope. Things improve in 2021. Winter will turn to Spring. The vaccine will start to slow the march of this tenacious virus, and this moment in our history will be ours. I believe this year will be remembered as one of the most pivotal years in human history. Its forced us to rethink the value of health, well-being, equality, family, the meaning of work, and what each of us really wants in life. These things matter.
In an era of relentless change, a company survives and thrives based not on its size or performance at any given time, but on its ability to reposition itself to create a new future, and to leverage a purpose-driven mission to that end. I feel people are much the same. As strategic transformation is imperative to companies in the 21st century, so too it will be for our species. Will you take this opportunity to move forward, learn and grow, or will you allow it to impede your growth? Allow this to change you. The choice is yours and the work is up to you.
As strategic transformation is imperative to companies in the 21st century, so too it will be for our species.
It’s Getting Better
The world is getting better, and our evolution as a species is part of that. We believe that a healthy planet means a healthier you and me. We no longer seek war and conquest, knowing that leads to destruction of our communities and souls. We want peace and harmony. We no longer think it’s fair to have advantages over our fellow man for essentials such as shelter, food, medical care and education. We’ve seen proof that when everyone has a safety net we all win. And we finally beginning to realize equality for all, every race, tribe and gender is essential for humanity to move forward. These attributes are slowly becoming part of our DNA. And that’s a good thing. It’s taking time, but the world is getting better through each challenge, tragedy and setback. The world our children enjoy will be better than the one we know now.