It’s easy to see the bad parts of 2020. They’re on the news, they’re in articles, they’re in memes, they’re showing up in expected and unexpected places in our lives.
For the overwhelming majority of us, there were good parts to 2020 as well, even if some of them are double-edged.
For example, both of my fifth grade classes were fantastic—the first time that’s happened since I’ve been in this position. The other edge is that our year got cut short. But the third quarter was still part of 2020 (we all seem to be starting 2020 in March…), and teaching those kids was great.
Even though school was a mess, they were great sixth graders this year.
It seems to me that in some homes, there is a lot of complaining, a lot of gossiping, a lot of seeing negative, expecting to be cheated, swindled, taken advantage of, stolen from. Try to raise ourselves by making others lower.
Other homes are more loving, seeing the good in people, reliving the best parts of their days with each other. (This is not to say that they ignore bad things—that’s just as toxic as focusing on them—just that they don’t marinate.)
My house growing up was definitely negative. Good things spoken of others were few and far between, and every compliment had an asterisk. Most commentary was degrading and judgmental.
And so to some extent, this became my outlook. Judge, put down, roll eyes, cluck tongue. Be aware of our superiority to them.
Little pieces of how this is dysfunctional came into my consciousness over time, and today, I am happy to say that much of the time, I see positivity in many things, I can wonder what in people’s story leads them to where they are, I can give benefit of the doubt.
I am certainly not saintly and still have more negative undercurrent than I’d like, but it’s much better, and I’m much happier. I actively work to make my household one that sees the good.
My life is better with this shift.
Experience combined with introspection have also given me the solid knowledge that challenges are opportunities to grow, and that life-upending challenges are both the hardest and have the biggest payout. Sure, occasionally you win $1,000,000 on the nickel slots, but not often enough to make it a financial plan.
I’ve been frustrated for nine months that we, culturally, are smashing our heads against the proverbial wall, trying to make things as close to “normal” as possible, missing so many opportunities to redesign the systems, to redesign our lives for the better instead of for the “have to.” Especially when our cultural “normal” wasn’t all that great to start with.
So tell me: what was good in 2020? Whether a result of pandemic or not. I’ll go first.
The Kid and I got to spend way more time together than is normally available. We did projects together, learned new things together, ran together, and still had time to do our own things off in our own corners.
Friends who don’t live nearby were part of game night, along with the usual crew. We’re really restricted on what we can play online (do you have any suggestions?), but we always had a good time.
I learned so many new technologies! (Definitely double-edged.) I got to figure out ways to try to engage with kids through the computer.
I took the opportunity to teach bucket drumming. It was so much fun (and so much work to figure out) and something I wouldn’t have done if not for necessity.
Through a weekly Zoom call, I got to talk with a small group of friends every week. It was more than I would have gotten to talk with these lovely ladies in regular real life.
I participated in The Creative’s Workshop, which was truly an amazing experience. I met people from all over the world, got to see other’s work, got feedback on my own work, made friends.
Related but deserving of its own paragraph: I wrote a book. Beginning the process of editing now. It’s been in my head for at least a decade, and now it’s out.
We had a pool put in, just in time for the record number of 110-degree days and 100-degree days. The joy of The Kid—both in watching it be built and in using it—was infectious.
Taking the same walk around the neighborhood and up the canal most days in the spring, I got to see the duck families born and grow.
That’s off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more, but this is a good start.
So tell me—what was good for you in 2020?
And then tell me—what’s good for you today?
Leave a comment, send me an email. Do it today. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day. What’s good? There’s no avoiding what’s bad—but is marinating in the bad really where you want to live?