Monday, December 21, 2020

Goodbye 2020, Hello Brave New World

We're not out of the COVID-19 pandemic just yet. Vaccination is still a distant light at the end of the tunnel. One thing's for sure - that 2020 will go down as the biggest turning point of modern history so far.

Much has been said about the needless loss of lives, failings of freedom, and rising spectre of tyranny. Let's not dwell in the gloom and doom on the macro scale. On a personal level, our lives have been invariably changed by the pandemic, directly or indirectly, for better or worse.

Of course, much of the change has turned out for the worst. Dwindling paychecks, uncertainties at work, fear for our loved ones, and so on. But in tragedy, there's always a silver lining. There are some valuable lessons that we can draw to withstand the challenges to come in 2021 and beyond.

* * *

Take our work. Yes, our livelihoods have definitely suffered. Some companies will push hard for retrenchments that they've been toying for years but to afraid to try in normal times. Some industries are harshly picked on more than others. Some of us are facing pay-cuts - or even losing jobs - simply due to bad luck beyond our control.

And yet, the squeeze is good. Unsustainable businesses will fold. Pointless positions will disappear. Let's be honest - we're all secretly rubbing our hands in anticipation for that lazy colleague to finally get kicked out for good. The universe is finding its balance. Life, as always, finds a way. Over time, the pandemic will gradually flush away the toxicity simmering in office.

Next up is social relationships. Interestingly enough, the pandemic set off a chain of events which led me to rekindling old friendships, and forging new ones that would never been possible if not of the pandemic (e.g. virtual mooting). Sure, being grounded at home took away some networking opportunities. But by and large, virtual communications opened up more doors than it closed. I found myself 'teleporting' across different time zones from America to Europe. In normal circumstances, I couldn't have afford attending those events anyway.

Above all, it's during times of trouble when people's true colours. This didn't quite happen to me, but I see it happening to other people. Decades-long partnerships breaking apart, new ones rising from the ashes. The pandemic broke down relationships that should've ended a long time ago. It gave some of us the courage - once our backs are up against the wall - to say: "Alright, that's it... WE ARE SO OVER!"

Last but most important of all - self-identity. In moments of isolation, I had time to do a lot of soul-searching. Reflecting on my past mistakes. Wondering if I'm on the right track. Forcing myself to look into the mirror - and the inner demons that burned behind those sleepy eyes.

Have I changed for the better? Maybe not by much. The road to self-discovery is long, winding, and painful. I'm still poking through the pieces. Some parts are jagged, and requires some delicate handling. I still get ahead of myself. My scars haven't quite healed. Still, I'm making progress more than usual. Oddly enough, the standstill of the pandemic offers the breathing space I needed to carefully reorient my direction, and choose my path wisely.

* * *

Yes, we're not out of the woods just yet. Chaos still reigns. No one quite knows what next year holds.

And yet, I find myself being in a sweet spot. Right in the eye of the storm. A quantum of solace.

And judging by all the changes enveloping other people's lives, I'm not alone. So let's all mourn for our deep losses, but also celebrate this rare flash of epiphany. We're at the cusp of change. The turning point of our journey. It's now or never, folks. You only live once. Seize the moment.

Thanks for the wake-up call, 2020. Let's cheers for 2021!

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