It’s that time again. The earth is completing another revolution around the sun. This season of life, like for most, is filled with reflection. Reflecting on all the past year was and wasn’t. It’s ironic, I started my 2020 in a self-imposed isolation, using the time to heal from leaving a toxic job, reflect on relationships I was in, and meditate on God’s word and character. I believed I had 11 more months to live out another adventure filled year, making new friends, traveling to new places, and experiencing new things. Who knew I would only get a month and a half of free roaming before I would have to be in a government sanctioned isolation. Life is funny that way. I remember someone saying to me something along the lines of ‘well you got your isolation and some.’ I laughed. I didn’t regret my self-imposed alone time, however, what followed from March onward has been anything but easy. I continue to learn one important lesson through it all—gratitude is key.
I am not going to wax poetic about how we should be grateful for health, shelter, and a job (if you are not one of the millions of people who were laid off during the pandemic). We should know that by now if we have not heard it several times already. So I see no need to tread into those waters. I will say that, comparison aside, everyone has suffered in some way during this pandemic whether if be physical suffering (loss of financial security, health, etc), or emotional and mental suffering such as loneliness, depression, and anxiety. This year was a year of suffering and, with that, perseverance. We mourned a slew of nouns this year, from loss of hopes and aspirations we had to deaths of people we knew or looked up to. How do we even find any silver lining in all of that?
I don’t claim to have found a silver lining just yet but I will share what I did. I had to learn to take each day one at a time. I had to relinquish my illusion of control and just live through what each 24 hour period brought. I did this because I became anxious when I tried to anticipate what the weeks or months would bring. Life felt as if it were perpetually suspended in midair but all I knew was that for 24 hours I was being held up. I chose to enjoy what I had in each day since there was no guarantee that I would be held up in the next 24-hour sequence. Being present in that way helped me to cultivate joy and immerse myself in the gratitude of the moment. The simple things became key points of celebration each day. I was grateful to have yummy food delivered to my doorstep. I was grateful to have the privilege of working from home. I was grateful to take walks through my neighborhood. I was grateful to laugh with friends over video chat. I was grateful to dance in my home.
Looking back, I realize that I cultivated joy amidst suffering and immersed myself in gratitude more than I ever have in my entire life. In the moment it certainly didn’t feel that way. I was far from being a perfectly poised mindfulness yogi. It felt painful to trudge through the boredom I experienced on some days. I complained and yearned for a semblance of normalcy. However, in this season of reflection, I am aware that I am more at peace than I have been in a long while. I see how being immersed in gratitude has helped me experience joy despite life not being the happiest or ‘fun’ this year. Who would’ve thought that my desire to cultivate a peaceful life would begin during a chaotic point in time?
“They will be strong like trees planted near a stream that send out roots to the water. They have nothing to fear when the days get hot. Their leaves are always green. They never worry, even in a year that has no rain. They always produce fruit.“
(Jeremiah 17:8 ERV)
Photo: A selection of bathroom selfies I’ve taken in 2020 😁