Our planet has completed another rotation around the sun. There have been highlights and lowlights, for nations and individuals alike. The coronavirus remains as elusive as spilled mercury, defying efforts to grasp it, successfully shape shifting and infecting additional swathes of the population.
If there’s one gift this global pandemic has given us, it’s the opportunity to reflect; to push the pause button and take a beat to think about things and gain a new perspective. What would previously have been casual conversations or social interactions have taken on new significance. People have been able to exercise their minds about what their values truly are. Relationships with friends and family have come under the internal microscope, being examined – and sometimes found wanting.
There has also been an appreciation for the small or simple things: a beautiful sunrise or sunset, gentle rain on parched earth and the time to enjoy them. Yet these tiny, incremental changes have also had a profound effect on people. No-one’s life can remain unscathed from two years – two years! – of a global pandemic restricting freedom of movement and association, affecting peoples’ ability to work, earn an income and to socialise!
So here we are at the start of a brand new year – and it’s tough to not feel jaded and more than a little cynical about what the next journey around the sun holds, precisely because of what we have all been through of late. Looking for inspiration, I turned to Google, to see what smarter folks than me had discovered about retaining hope during adversity. Martin Luther King said: “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
South Africa’s great statesman, Nelson Mandela, was famously quoted as saying “the greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”
That old American warhorse, General Ulysses S. Grant said: “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”
All three of those quotes are beautiful, and as with any such statement, people will take from it that which they need. But the one which resonated best with me was by the poet Robert Frost, a man who won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry and was awarded 40 honorary degrees – and who also knew great personal tragedy and suffered from depression his whole life.
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”
And so it shall, day by day, until another 365 pass.