If there was a time when we actually meant most of what we said, it is this year. Our ‘how are you doing’ has often been genuine this year. We have wished to hear from our relatives and friends hoping that they are fine. That they have not caught the virus. That they haven’t lost their jobs. That they are keeping a good state of mind. I can’t recall any other year when this concern was near universal and when the threat to life was so imminent and so closely felt by a vast majority of people on the planet.
A year flew by with most of us living in anxiety about the future of our personal, professional and inner lives, all of which were threatened by the pandemic. The threat continues. But with nine months of living with the virus, there’s a fatigue and subtle indifference that has come in.
This has been an unusual year in a way that it has compressed several years of learning and experiences into a stretch of a few months. The density of transformational experiences is exceptionally high this year.
I have written everyday since the pandemic-led lockdowns began in the country. These are over 280 days. It is the longest continuous stretch of daily writing that I have done. The year will stand out for making writing a part of daily life. This habit has brought much satisfaction, peace and clarity in life.
Crisis is an effective teacher. The pandemic has brought forward the deep fractures that exist in our society and among nations of the world. If any, this was the time to forge multilateralism and universalism that brought people together in constructive ways. Instead, we have seen a mad rush for securing life saving drugs, personal protective equipment and lately a scramble for vaccines. The pandemic has demonstrated how inextricably linked our future is as a human race. The year has seen extraordinary progress in scientific research in many of the critical areas of medicine and industry. Even as a substantial part of the world worked from home we have seen a remarkable level of action in managing public health as well as the economy.
The year demonstrates the vitality of intent. Looking back, it appears that all the achievements this year have happened because there has been a clear intent in finding solutions to survive the pandemic.
The year has also taught a useful lesson in living with uncertainty. It has made many of us rethink, perhaps, reassess what’s valuable and what’s meaningful in our lives. Living day after day of inactivity, locked inside our homes has brought the current generation to inevitably ponder over the state of our world and within it the state of ourselves.
Personally, the year is marked with a major leg injury and recovery from it in the later half. A good marathon, an unfinished ultra marathon and then another pain filled marathon spree ended in a broken tib-fib bones. The second half of the year was spent in learning to walk, cycle and run again. At the end of second half, a sub 6 min/km pace in running brought some cheer. The injury came along with its own bundle of lessons. Key among them is to not let short term gains come in the way of long term aspiration.
Farming and traveling picked up in the later months when lockdown was eased. By December, we had two rounds of cropping completed on the farm and a harvest of soybean and pigeonpea.
There is a lot to be thankful about in this year. This year is about learning to live despite loss, grief, uncertainty and that things change!
Today, after driving 570 KM north of Bangalore the day has ended in a city and hotel where I was in December of 2019. The highway to Hyderabad has transformed much in several stretches. The big car factory has gone on steam and there is a busy air around the highway. These repetitions of places help in registering change and in tracking time. Similar is the attempt with these year-end notes. Tomorrow, I continue the drive further north.
2 thoughts on “Roundup 2020”
I have been impressed by your wisdom and witness over the course of this year, friend. Much kindling for my own reflections. I have struggled with words—reading, writing and editing—and about the only thing I’ve managed is to keep moving on my own two legs and grow stronger physically. I feel (hope) the tides are shifting on the creative front as the new year dawns. I’m making changes to move forward on that front. But you are so right that the difficult and the unexpected are the greatest teachers as long as we are open to the lessons. Safe travels into 2021.
Very kind of you to say that. Thank you for the wishes. I have often fed off your reading and reviewing activity. Glad that you feel physically stronger – sometimes, I do find a strong physical state to be a precursor to productive phases of writing and creativity! Here’s hoping that you do get those personal essays out to publishers!