I never make resolutions. My personality is designed in a way that makes me allergic to artificial boundaries. Which, as you might imagine, my rule following husband finds very endearing. But this year, I actually kept the only and one resolution I made.
At the end of what had been four very hard and long years, I knew I needed to recalibrate how I viewed the world. I had grown cynical and pessimistic. Traits that were not me but had wormed their way into my life. Mostly to cope with the pain of it all but partly from the prevailing thought that our world is a dumpster fire.
In 2019, just like the previous few years, everyone talked about what a dumpster fire of a year it had been. Witty memes and ornaments perpetuated this. It’s an easy narrative to believe. But I knew I had to stop believing it to be true. I resolved to rediscover my hopeful, positive self.
From the Target dollar bins (that are inexplicably no longer a dollar), I purchased a 2020 calendar. I decided to write one good thing that happened every day for a year. That way, when I got to the end of the year and the dumpster fire memes began, I could look back over all of the days and see all of the good in my life. One insignificant moment at a time, I would dig out of my cynical pit. And see the hope and joy that surely surrounded me.
It turns out that I picked the very best year to do such a thing.
Because a global pandemic and contentious election are gasolines to the dumpster fire situation.
Situations I, in no way, minimize. Many dear friends of mine have experienced deep, deep tragedy and loss this year. Both because of the pandemic and because of regular life stuff. I mourn with those who are heartbroken and experiencing sincere grief. I am not referring to that nor am I pretending loss should be glossed over with rose-colored vision. Not at all. I would never make light of or try to positively spin losing someone you love. Those grieving should take all the time they need.
The dumpster fire I am talking about is the collective belief that life generally sucks and we should burn it all down. There are parts about life that do suck. And 2020 has certainly given plenty of that. But I don’t think it’s true that our world is a dumpster fire. I think our perspective is just a little off.
When I read back through the “one good thing” of each day, it turns out the world is a pretty awesome place.
Our entire society slowed down and recalibrated. Businesses got creative, and people were generous. We adapted quickly to finding unique ways to socialize, and I personally deepened friendships online in a way I would not have in real life. Quality family time was at an all-time high, and the impossibly exhausting pace of life was at an all-time low. Home projects were finally completed, and bread baking became a national sport. We soaked up the sunshine and danced in the rain.
We laughed at Zoom fails on YouTube and TikTokked our way through a crisis. Parents became teachers, and teachers became our heroes. People of color called us to change, and hopefully we are. Communities rallied together, and churches fed us. We masked up and we marched on. We did things we never thought we could.
Of course, this year brought out the worst in some, but it brought out the best in most.
I am not saying I want to relive the year. And to reiterate, I am not saying it was an easy year for anyone. Most of all, for those who lost loved ones or their livelihood.
What I am saying is that it wasn’t a total dumpster fire. If you turn off the television, silence your phone, and look around, there is so much good:
Memes that make me laugh every day. The creativity of people never ceases to amaze me.
My husband turned grilling into a sport and smokes the most delicious ribs I’ve ever had.
Group texts with friends make the long days a little lighter.
My eight-year old creates YouTube videos that delight me to no end.
GoCleanCo on Insta changed my life with powdered Tide.
And a fireplace crackling on a cold winter night is the coziest feeling in the world.
It’s all in what you choose to focus your attention on.
My goal to focus on the good in 2020 proved challenging at times, but I am so grateful that 2019 me had the idea to write it all down. Because even the hardest days had at least one good thing, and most days had too many to count.
I am not trying to be a Pollyanna who ignores the hard stuff. I am well-acquainted with grief and difficult circumstances. I am just a human trying to recalibrate my heart and mind to experience all of the good. To cling to hope and be filled with unexplainable joy. Life is so short, and I don’t want to spend my precious time burning it all down.
I don’t have to ignore the bad to see the good. I am aware of the hard things we experience and the injustices of many. I give to causes and invest in things that matter. I do what is mine to do in order to overcome evil with good. But just because there is some bad doesn’t mean it’s all bad.
2020 will go down in history as the weirdest, hardest year for most of us. I don’t discount that. But, if you dig a little deeper, can you find the good? The ordinary moments that made your days a little sweeter? And your year worth living? The things that made you better? And the things you’ll never take for granted again?
A year’s worth of writing it down proves it’s there. Set fire to what you must, but don’t burn it all down. When 2020 wasn’t totally the worst, it had beautiful moments that brought out the best.