Reflection on a Strange Year
Here’s an obvious reflection: It’s been a tumultuous year.
It was a year I thought would be entirely different to the way it panned out. I think on some level we all thought we’d get back to some sort of normality by now. And we did for a while. But here we are at the end of 2021 looking into a very familiar January.
That being said, there were a lot of ups to match the downs of 2021. And we get to choose what to focus on. Instead of focusing on things that make us angry we are allowed to focus on the things which make us happy. We don’t need to get angry about another person’s vaccination status, or the state of the place, or where we are in terms of lockdown. We have the ability to calm our own storms, yet a lot of us refuse to even acknowledge this ability.
In Stoic philosophy this ability is acknowledge in every single moment. We are ultimately the ones who dictate what disrupts our mental wellbeing and general life satisfaction. And so it is okay for you to be upset by things outside of your control but this happening is ultimately a choice you are making. Because if you try hard enough, you can decide to let nothing that other people do affect your wellbeing. And this ability has no identity. It is not an ability exclusive to any one gender, race, or ideology. It is an ability you can choose to have if you want it.
I just wanted to highlight that before I began a more personal reflection on the year we’ve had.
It had it’s ups and downs. There were extremely challenging times. There were also incredibly inspiring and uplifting times. I met a thousand new people in a dozen countries. I learned about myself. I learned about some of my best qualities but also about my more monstrous side. I felt love and heartbreak. I was hurt and I also hurt other people. I failed repeatedly but I also succeed at times.
Every year – and indeed every moment – is a chance to learn. And learning requires the ability to quiet your mind and your ego and your beliefs and just observe. It requires the silencing of the self in order to see how other people live, and in this way you can take pieces of knowledge from every single person you meet. And so you can construct your own version of the good life, whatever that looks like for you.
2021 was not normal, nor was it easy. But to chalk it up as a bad year would be short-sighted and pessimistic. It was far from a bad year. How could you even begin to define what badness is in this context. 2021 was a year which offered the opportunity to grow and learn. You needn’t worry if you didn’t take that opportunity this time around because 2022 will offer the same opportunity. As will 2023, and 2024 and so on.
This time of year is important for people to find a moment for reflection. The point I’m trying to make is that you are in control of how you feel at any given moment. And you have the ability to grow inside of every single moment you breathe. So now all you and I need to decide is whether we’re up to the challenge.
Catch you in the New Year,