Last year was rather dramatic for most of us. Just like celebrating the year 2000, stepping into 2020 somehow had me all nervous. Things were not working too well for me personally, and I was rather afraid of what the new year had in store. 2020 came along and blew us out of our minds.
It was a quiet transition from 2019 to 2020 for me, doing the usual thing I’ve done all my life- be at church for the “watchnight service”. Stepped into work on the first day and heard all these speeches about automation and technological advancements that we as the company was planning to embrace – I was very excited. A month went by and then I travelled with my husband to visit my brother in Qatar. It was a very short holiday of just over a week – it came as a surprise as I love travelling overseas and had not been able to do so for a while. In the anticipation of visiting my brother again (as he was quite stable with his job, recently married and was settling in their new apartment) I did not bother to do my usual shopping. I love visiting the souq. Starbucks and H&M are my favorites in the malls, as we do not have them here in Sri Lanka. Soon after we had returned, within a few days our country began to restrict Airport access. This was in February. Early week of March, we managed to tag along with a friend of my husband, with whom we just drove along the coastal roads and spent some time on various beaches of Sri Lanka. It was a hippie weekend on the beaches. None of us had a clue on how our lives were going to be like from mid-March.
Come mid-March, the Government decided that we needed to have the entire country on lockdown, just to ensure that there was no movement and that would reduce the spread of Covid-19. Work from home began, almost instantly. I had to learn to juggle a lot of different things around the house with work from home. It was not easy at all, having to run out to the gate to stop vegetable and fruit vendors, then to cook all meals and balance house hold chores with the never ending demand from work. It took a while for the supermarket chains to get themselves organized with their distribution networks, and at times we had no choice but to buy the same vegetables in kilos and cook them in various different ways. There was no variety.
The first lockdown was both good and bad in many ways. As I am a rather optimistic individual, I made the best of being stuck indoors even though I am naturally inclined to be an outdoor person. I found it rather stressful at the the start as I needed to be outdoors. Living in a tiny apartment 24/7 indoors for 03 months was a challenge for me. During those times I pushed my mind to think about big families in tiny homes and the poor who had no privacy in their homes. The women, men and children who may have succumbed to abuse. Alcoholics and drug addicts going insane in their houses as they no longer had access to these. This helped me to appreciate what I had and helped me to complaining. I changed the way I thought and found ways to keep myself occupied and entertained.
I got my hands on two books which really got me going during 2020. The first was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Even though I have been an avid SK fan as a early young adult, I somehow did not quite follow up on the titles after 2010. I came across this book as it was recommended for writers who were interested to learn about good story telling. I did not try to find out what the book was about (I rarely read the back cover; it spoils my curiosity). All I did know was, that it was about JFK. I was delighted when I discovered it was all about time travel. The second book is a keepsake. It is a great book on regenerative agriculture. Kiss the Ground by Josh Tickell. I have been very interested to learn about how we can preserve our soil as I strongly believe it is the key to our existence and the solution to our excess Carbon in the atmosphere which is eventually destroying our planet. It was an eye opener. I now consider this book as my bible of agriculture.
The other thing that I took a liking to was to learn to play some songs on the guitar and sing along. I made good use of my husband’s guitar which was lying around unloved. I have played the guitar on and off growing up but I was out of touch and never have I attempted singing along whilst playing. I found it a bit hard as opposed to playing the piano and singing. I have always found Ultimate Guitar to be a very useful website to look up lyrics and chords. I committed my time as a habit to learn one song within two weeks and recorded them for my own self esteem and critique. By October, I made just one cover of Domino Dancing as requested by my husband and put it up on YouTube. That required a lot of courage as I am just an amateur. That boosted my self confidence.
The first Lockdown restrictions were eased by mid- May and we were back at work in our regular office environment. The lockdowns thereafter were not as strict as the first one, and we were allowed movement with certain restrictions. It was returning to business as usual. Theatres, restaurants and hotels which were previously closed began to open up with new health regulations. Wearing a mask became a mandatory accessory. Washing hands and sanitization became a no.1 priority, and of course Social Distancing and new forms of handshakes. No holding hands and no hugs and kisses. July came along and I learnt that that my brother lost his job and had to return home. It was all too difficult to bear. But I learnt that life is life. Thankfully, they were able to return home late December.
All in all, 2020 by far was the most weirdest year of my 40 years of existence on this planet earth. I realized that nothing is forever. I learnt a few things in 2020 and I would like to share these thoughts and encourage someone who would need to hear it.
- It is ok to loose your cool; it is ok to let out the steam. In the end your life depends on your sanity.
- You cannot do everything on your own. Asking for help is quite alright. And if help does not arrive, that is also quite alright. And even if helped arrived but did not meet your expectations that is also quite alright. Everything works out eventually.
- Make time, I mean serious time for yourself and yourself alone. We all need to be selfish when it comes to this. Yes, we will have responsibilities, people to take care of and feed etc. But, make time for yourself to unwind and rest. Love yourself first. Only then can you love your neighbour as yourself.
- Read. Read as many books, blogs, magazines, offline, online etc. You will acquire a wealth of knowledge by choosing the right things to read. Not the rubbish gossip.
- Learn multiple skills which you can monetize. Your 9-5 job is not going to be forever and you need to have other sources of income to make it through, like the year of Covid-19. (Many I know lost their jobs)
- Sift your Social Circles. 2020 was a good year to identify those friends who were “fake”. Yes, you may have grown up with them, shared your entire life with them etc. But during a crisis, you will know your real true friends. The ones who will stick by you, even when you have no money to spend on them, when you are no longer influential. A lot of people showed their true colours in 2020.
- Eat only what you need. Do not hoard food. Be wise to select what is healthy for you; and not what is healthy for someone else. We all have different bodies and will function differently from others.
- Be empathetic and kind. 2020, was a year where lots of empathy was needed. People became very needy or harsh. Marriages were either fixed or blown apart. Friendships either grew stronger or parted for good. Remember, everyone, including yourself have a story to tell. So be empathetic about others and muster some courage to listen to their story.
I would like to hear about your experiences from the YEAR OF THE COVID. Please be kind to share your thoughts in comments. Thank you!