What a year it was!

As we bid adieu to 2020, the lessons gathered along the way must not be forgotten

What a year it was!

What a year it's been! Historic, challenging, epic…a year of survival for lives and livelihoods that witnessed upheaval and strife, and eventually metamorphosis, as we tried to adapt to the new 'normal'. This being my last column for 2020, what better time than now to reminisce about the year gone by. The COVID-19 pandemic decimated our understanding of life as it was, and while bringing us all to our wit's end, this great equalizer also imparted valuable life lessons.

There we were inebriated in our mindless pursuits of wealth, success, and material pleasures, running on the guinea pig's wheel chasing superficial goals; when our life was turned upside down. Immediately, health and safety became more important than anything else. As we stayed indoors for months while in lockdown with no physical connection with the outside world, we looked at the real people in our lives a bit more closely. Even if thousands of kilometres away and joined through video calls on phone screens, perhaps after years, we had deep conversations with near and dear ones. Instead of the extra hours that were spent in office or in commute, we spent time with our children and families, who once again regained that lost importance in many of our lives.

This indelible year taught us self-sufficiency — to clean and cook without the help of domestic staff. We learnt new skills through online classes, gave expression to some of our hidden talents, and rediscovered some old loves and hobbies that found no place in daily rigmarole. We became more tech-savvy — relying on the technologies of the new world to tackle the crisis brought on by a new virus. We realised that working from home and flexible work hours were indeed possible and definitely more productive. We remembered once again that curling up with a good book could be as thrilling as a party. Some of us were lucky enough to find joy in the outdoors and feel reunited with nature.

With fewer external distractions, we focussed more on ourselves. We finally accepted that our mental health is as important as the rest of us; that strengthening and training our mind is more crucial today than it was earlier; that it's okay to have depression or bipolarity and that there's a way to cope with those too. So, what if gyms were shut? The truly dedicated resorted to yoga and workouts at home. Nothing was impossible as long as we had the will and applied our minds to it. This year taught us resilience and courage — to look at adversity and take it head-on. Our ingenuity and innovativeness as human beings were amplified in order to come up with temporary safeguards and solutions against COVID-19 because, at some point, much of the population had to also get back to physical work.

As we stand on the threshold of the new year, there is an obvious eagerness to forget the scars of 2020. The death of loved loves who succumbed to the virus or the loss of jobs due to downsizing or shutting of businesses that couldn't survive the pandemic — scars there were aplenty. But the important lessons gathered along the way should not be forgotten because while there is hope of the COVID-19 vaccine, our realistic expectation should be of a changed, evolved, and (still) masked up world in 2021.

The writer is an author and media entrepreneur. Views expressed are personal

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