Once I went into a snazzy looking Indian restaurant in Scotland. My expectation was that the surroundings would translate into good service and exquisite dishes. How wrong I was. The curry was extremely below average after a long waiting time and the waiters were self-entitled. The snazz of the place had gone to their heads. That was a lesson in how not to judge anything by the glitz of the presentation.
A New Year is always wrapped in glitz – fireworks, party food, drink and dressing up. We ushered in 2020 in exactly the way previous ones had been welcomed but it turned out to be one hell of a year didn’t it? Nobody could have anticipated not only the fact that lockdowns would occur but the duration of each too. Our normal places of social assembly were shut and even our homes became off limits to people whom we would normally welcome.
Understandably, many on 31/12/20 were waiting to see the back of 2020 and to usher in 2021. Many had contracted Covid themselves or had lost loved ones, lost jobs, gone through their savings to support themselves and their families and suffered from mental health issues. Placing one’s sadness and misery within a time and space context is a human reflex. 2020 was seen as a villain. People seemed to process the year as some sort of villainous spectre which brought trauma and hardship with it.
Witnessing the plethora of comments on social media in the last few days of 2020 about how people could not wait to see the back of it set me off on a contemplative pathway about the meaning of a year.
What is a year? It is a mark of time. It is a way of helping us keep tabs on our age, growth and productivity. A year is not a tangible thing. It is more of a bookend marking the start of a period in life and the end of it. A repository for events which took place within that time frame. A year may end but another one beckons.
The virus is referred to as Covid-19 but it fully emerged in 2020. We have started 2021 in lockdown. I am being pessimistic here but, consider this – do we throw away 2021 too should it turn out to be another year dominated by the virus?
Our memories and experiences come with us from one year to the next and beyond. Our personalities and values are made up of the reflections, fears and joys experienced through time. What I hated and feared before 2020 I still do. At the end of the day, 2020 brought great adversity to us all and some lost far more than others but wasn’t it also an opportunity (albeit unwanted) to test our resilience under circumstances previously not experienced?
I started off with a off the wall memory about an Indian restaurant in Scotland. What I didn’t mention was that dining there was part of a very special family holiday. The dinner was awful but the holiday was great. That is my abiding memory.
What I am trying to say is that a year is a social construction and if 2020 has taught us anything it is that we will need to make and remake new normals. Looking forward to another year and another is to throw time away.