This is the year of strangeness. A year back no one would have imagined the position they find themselves in. But beyond everything else, there is hope that lingers on. Because hope is what makes us human. That and worrying about a future we know nothing about. Amongst our closest ancestors and relatives, we probably are the only species that worry so much about what the future holds for us. The big primates seldom do. And that is an evolutionary marvel that probably allowed the homo sapiens to race through and become masters of the world around. All that we do is with an eye on the future. Even “Carpe Diem” that tells us to seize the day loses its sheen after a few glorious years. Because if something is an absolute in this world, it’s regret.
There are events in world history that change a lot of our daily lives. Let’s take margarine for example – first thought of as a butter substitute for the French Army and the poorer sections of the society it became the saviour as World War II ravaged the world. And then it fell from grace again as the world attained prosperity. Often, it’s all about being at the right place and the right time but more often than not, it is about missed chances.
The strangest things however were playing out in our minds and the phases of grief were playing out in a completely different order. In the beginning of the year there was disorganization and despair all around. Information was scarce, the hubris of the human race was at full display and we were winging it in the true sense of the word. Then came the shock and numbness when we couldn’t meet family, things went from bad to worse and there would be a glimmer of hope which would then die down. But we picked ourselves up and moved on to yearn and search for meaning between never ending calls, the need to head back to work even though things were not quite the same. Some of us were luckier than the rest and this was the year I felt we finally began the see the invisible hands that moved every economy. There were people out there braving the virus while we kept safe at our homes. We are now in the reorganization and recovery phase with the hope of a vaccine helping us go through the process to get back to normalcy.
At your workplace too, you truly realize who you are. This was a year when the usual stressors at work were mostly at bay because something gigantic had usurped their places as our key irritant. This was a year when you needed to find our who you are – at home and at work.
But the truth also is that if you didn’t bother to find that out, it’s all good. By the time the year was halfway through, Linkedin posts almost made you feel that everyone on the world had gotten a minimum of two PhDs with all the time they had in the world. Thankfully for me, I had mentors who told me it’s ok.
So here we are, having survived 2020 with a story we can tell our grandchildren. And probably given the strangeness of it all, instead of ringing in 2021 at the stroke of midnight hour, maybe we should pause and observe a moment of silence for all those who we had to leave behind.
See you in 2021.
PS: Stages of Grief is an amazing concept. If you want to read further, I recommend starting with the book On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. It was written in the late sixties so modern scientific understanding has really taken this forward.