So with 2020 nearly over, I thought I'd do the usual thing of reflecting a bit on the year past and try and convey a few of my own reflections on what the year was like for me personally.
It would be easy to fall back onto what seems to be the consensus right now that 2020 was just total shit, but was it all bad ? Were there lessons to learn ? Opportunities ? I believe in any crisis there are both opportunities and lessons, and while in the moment the experience may seem horrificly unpleasant, these things can be harnessed for a positive outcome.
One thing I've really taken from this year is just how much people hate a change to their habits of lifestyle and how the extraordinary affluence that we enjoy in this country has made many of us pampered and when you anti-masker, anti-lockdown types making a fuss, it remined me very much of spoilt children who don't want to eat their vegetables. Even small acts to protect our fellow citizens seem a step too far from some.
I found that at a certain point I had to switch of from all the complaining and whingeing, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who did a lot of muting on social media of "friends" spreading fear, anxiety and misinformation. It was hard enough dealing with one's own anxiety without having to take on that of others.
But I don't want to dwell to long on the negative in this post. I guess watching others freak out helped me be aware of my own need to develop strategies to protect my own mental health and just to get through what was a pretty unprecedented event for most of us.
For me it was an opportunity to slow down, to take stock and realise I didn't have to be anywhere at a particular time. I went from being in the depths of despair to a state of supreme calm. I tried to learn how to do lots of new stuff as well as expanding my knowledge over a whole lot of subjects I'd always wanted to learn more about. I tried to do lots of small creative projects, especially with photography and video. From time to time small opportunities fell into my hands like doing videos for "A Piano Of Tasmania". You can see some of the examples of this on my website, another thing that I was able to work on more and expand and refine indirectly as a result of the pandemic.
I also took up running and lost weight and have improve my cardiovascular fitness. I spent a lot more time in nature which was therapeutic both mental and physically and provided a welcome inspiration for my photography as well
So, a crisis offers opportunities...if you look for them.
There was a certain point where I did lose a bit of patience with people complaining about rules like the fact that you couldn't dance in pubs - small fry compared to what others were undergoing around the world. At some point you've got to stop whining about what you haven't got and start to take stock of what you do have. I totally get people feeling depressed and anxious, that's how I felt at the beginning, but if you're sitting at the bottom of the well of despair, there's no point looking downwards but to look for a way up. One really strong lesson that's hit home for me has been that there are many areas of life we can't control. We didn't chose to be in this pandemic or be in lockdown unable to see loved ones face-to-face for extended periods. We didn't have a choice if we were laid off by employers in industries decimated by Covid-19 rules. It is better not to waste energy fighting against the things that you can't control and to divert that energy on the things you can. In taking stock of this I realised that one opportunity that the pandemic situation had granted me was time. Then the difficulty becomes how you use it, and funnily enough the more you have the easier it can be to waste it and fritter it away. But with the crisis looming over, this year was somewhat different. For quite a while we didn't really know what the future held ahead. I learnt just to take it one step at a time, and just worry about my little square of the world and what I could do about that.
So at the end of 2020, what have I got out of all this ?
It's forced me to reevaluate what's really important to me in life, where I want to be and what I want to do with my life. I feel now like I don't want to waste so much time on trivialities and things that are not important, but that it's also important to enjoy life and appreciate what you've got and not what you think you're missing. I feel like I've become wiser and more resilient, that I've developed strategies for dealing with my stress and anxiety.
I'm hoping others realised like me, that there are so many things ( especially good things ) that we have taken for granted in our society up to now, and hopefully more people have an appreciation for now that we know they can be taken away. I think we're pretty lucky in Tasmania in that there still exists a community spirit and level of adaptability which helped get us through 2020 with less fuss than elsewhere, though it also must be said that we had luck on our side in so many ways. We can be thankful for living in a beautiful and isolated place at this time where we don't wont for much.
So for 2021 I'd like to be able to build on what I've learnt in 2020, continue the mission I began with the 177 Nations of Tasmania podcast and hopefully start to earn a bit of a living as a result of the endeavours I've undertaken and the skills and knowledge I've gained through 2020.
In conclusion, let's all think about the things we can be grateful for and how we can use what we've got, rather than worry about the things we wish we had in this time. I am not going to say that I am necessarily super optimistic about 2021, we can't control what's going to happen, but I feel I'm better equipped to face the sticks and arrows that it may throw my way !
Happy New Year 2021 everyone !