How 2020 taught us life is unpredictable

It is a time to reflect as the year with all its woes finally winds down

In Summary

• This year has thrown a lot our way, but our resilience has gotten us through

Woman lost in thoughts
Woman lost in thoughts

I have spent the last few hours before writing this column going through all the previous Society Talk columns from this year. I had already anticipated that this year’s final column would be about ending the year right. However, being that this year was unique in every aspect to all of us the world over, I thought I could re-read my articles and see what this year has been like to me specifically.

It becomes easy in the present to forget about all the difficulties we faced in the past, even though in that moment, we actually thought we would never see the end of it. Think about it. Go back to a place or time earlier this year, when you felt absolutely helpless or alone or stuck. How does that problem look like from this angle?

Reading my articles back, I saw just how much I struggled with multiple things during the year. As a writer, my own experiences become the muse or inspiration to many of my observation articles. In retrospect, I reflected on the numerous issues I struggled with this year. I saw how the suicide of a Bollywood actor affected me more than it should have. I realised that through marriage, I saw life in a different way. And I saw how I struggled with my mental and physical health. All of these are articles I wrote about that stemmed from a thought, a feeling or an incident.

We half-jokingly referred to 2020 as the apocalypse. This year was undoubtedly unlike anything we could have ever predicted. It creeped up on us like a thief in the night and unleashed a lifetime of horrors that had us cowering in our homes.

You see, after all we have been through this year, with the breakout of Covid-19 and the disease being declared a global pandemic, we have all learnt the one important secret in life: life is unpredictable. Sometimes something will happen and completely upturn our lives in a way we could never have anticipated. There are some people out there whose lives were completely ruined by Covid-19. They lost families, jobs, livelihoods, homes and everything they hold dear because of Covid.

I am a big believer that to move forward, we must look back. This principle stuck with me since my postgraduate days, where my office had a big quote plastered on the wall… “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” — George Santayana. This quote is probably one of the most important mantras in my life. I believe that there is a lot to be learnt from experiences. If we pay close attention to the details, we have a good chance to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Therefore, before the year draws to a close, I urge you to look back at your experiences this year in detail. Think back to even the minutest moments that were definitive for you. The moment you realised you were bigger than your problems. The instant you felt your urge to fight back kick in. The day you woke up feeling like a conqueror, and so on.

If anything, you will come to understand that even the darkest moments become fleeting memories in life. Just as the Covid-19 pandemic swooped in and turned our lives topsy-turvy, we know that its end is near. Nothing lasts forever and just as Trump’s short term presidential era comes to a close, so does the chapter of living through a global pandemic.  

Only by making peace with the misfortunes and hardships that we faced during this past year can we look forward to the possibilities of a brighter 2021. As we turn with hopeful looks towards the rising sun, that is the New Year, let us go forth with no regrets and reinforced belief that we are stronger than we were before and that we are ready to face anything 2021 will bring our way.