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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

And Just Like That (?!?), There Goes 2020

And there it goes..... The remainder of 2020 is inelegantly pouring down the drain; dripping drop by smelly drop into the past. We can't wait to see it go and are jubilant at the thought that a new year might bring better tidings, more light, more life and less disease. Thinking back on the end of 2019, just a year ago, we collectively seemed so naive, so hopeful, so normal (I can't think of a better word, can you?). There was so much we didn't give thought to as we went through the actions of our everyday lives.

365 long days ago we were bringing in a new year, no, a new decade! Millions gathered in the public spaces of the globe to celebrate. There was dancing in the streets, there were hugs and kisses, dancing together and music! As we left, we promised each other that we would see each soon. We hugged goodbye without a second thought or a second glance. We texted, took photos of each other, made new year's resolutions, dreamed of upcoming plans in 2020. Weddings were planned, Bar Mitzvahs, family trips, high school graduations, and babies were expected. And there were the little events; the trips to the dentist, shopping at the market, every kind of dance class, going to church or synagogue, school events, sports, sports and more sports and let's not forget the plays, bus and train rides, ride shares, visits to restaurants, nightclubs, concerts, the movies and theater.

"Life as it was...." Even as I write this, I feel that I need a to find a different font to distinguish between the then and the now. They are that mismatched; two radically different fonts for the universe as it existed then and now.

The buzz word of the past few years for quite a few of us is to "be mindful." Never has a year arrived that forced us to be more mindful of some key acts, such as the act of breathing. So many people have spent hours in meditation or yoga classes trying one kind of breathing or another, but 2020 taught us not to take breathing for granted. Public health officials have tried to educate the world on keeping our breaths to ourselves and not sharing our potentially dangerous breaths with others. We have become more conscious of our oxygen levels, deep breathing, shallow breathing, not breathing, stomach breathing and problems breathing long after Covid has departed. Never have we been more mindful about an action which was almost automatic.

Now look at your hands and realize how much more familiar we are with them than a year ago. We are hyper-aware of the germs that hitch free rides on them and have learned the art of mindful hand washing as we try to count to 30 as we wash and make sure to wash our thumbs and the tips of our fingers. We have become more mindful of space. Even three year olds have learned about the six feet rule and each of us attempts to dance in our own small universes, with only a few people allowed into what might be a new definition of a social circle. We are more mindful of simple things and actions that once were ours, but have been stuffed into drawers until some later and better date. We are more mindful of our families and friends as we are absent from them, even as we invent new and amazing ways of being together when we are apart. For this we are mindful and eternally grateful as well.

We dream at night of hugging our kids and grandkids, we swear to ourselves never to take for granted the small things in life again. When the pandemic comes to an end we promise ourselves that we won't take anything for granted. Not eating with others, not sharing a plane ride, not meeting for coffee inside in a crowded coffee shop (if that coffee shop emerges unscathed after this is over)...nothing is off limits for being mindful. As we approach the beginning of a new year, of 2021, let's take this forced mindfulness with us and reconstruct it so it is not forced, but something gracefully helps us enhance our lives.

I can't finish this little post without expressing gratitude to those during this strange year who have had the extraordinary task of carrying the inglorious 2020 on their shoulders. The people who are out there risking their lives and for whom mindfulness is not just a concept but an essential maxim which governs their lives each day. Words are the most feeble of attempts to express gratitude for them. If you are a person out there working who is reading this post, then thank you for helping to shoulder the unbearable burdens of 2020. As 2021 arrives, I hope it brings you lighter burdens, brighter times and more opportunities to begin life again. Life will surely look different in 2021. I hope that this year in particular merits our optimism and our fervent wishes that it will bring back the things that we took for granted just one short year ago.

Happy New Year, everyone. L' your good health.


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