They say hindsight is 20-20. Looking back, it's been quite the year.
Everyone knows the macro, the events that have affected us all. All the ways we've been shut away from each other, the pain, the suffering, the ensuing perspective. So I won't spend too much time writing about that which we all already know. We've lived through it, each of us. We've all been boats in the same storm. Some of us have had the luxury of boats well equipped, feeling the storm as a minor inconvenience, an irritant, whilst others have faced severe heartbreak and challenge, and far more beyond.
I'll be honest: I've been very fortunate that the virus, and all that came with it, has been inconvenient, undesirable, in many ways unenjoyable, but nothing compared to how it has affected many others.
I've not relished the shape life has taken in 2020, but life in 2020 was far from the difficulties others have unexpectedly been faced with. My heart goes out to them and to you, if you were on of those.
The big theme this year for us all has been perspective. All the things we took for granted being snatched away, us left sitting inside our homes with nothing to do except ponder, mourn and watch yet another Netflix series.
Outside of the macro, the events we've all lived through, 2020 for me has been a real mixture of a year.
Even before everything kicked off with the pandemic, it was one of the most challenging I'd faced. And in other ways, it was one marked with progress, with achievement, and with maturation.
If the big theme has been a shift in perspective, the more personal one has been letting go.
Letting go of control, of my belief that I can do what I want, when I want, that I'm the master of my own destiny.
Letting go of those I've loved. Both my nan, who passed away peacefully at a good old age, and a relationship, that no matter how I tried, just wouldn't work out how I wanted.
Letting go of my twenties, of my "youth", of the perspective that life is infinite, that death is just a story but not one that I will ever really have to face.
There's been good things too. The maturity that only adversity can bring. The progress I've made in my physical health, losing weight and putting on some muscle. Building my first solo app. Finally straightening my teeth, and the confidence boost that has brought.
There's been beautiful moments too.
Be it cycling around London with my sister, brother-in-law and niece. Be it impromptu picnics with the sunset painting a beautiful backdrop to the skyline of the city that I love. Be it late night chats by the Thames until the early hours. The wandering hikes through nature. The trips, to Switzerland, Vienna, the Lake District and the Cotswolds. Beautiful sunset drives through winding British countryside after a day exploring the coast with friends. Be it chats with the parents and hearing more of their life stories, that puts my inconveniences into perspective.
I have been very blessed. I really have no standing to complain, and yet despite that, the highs don't simply negate the lows. Both exist, both were experienced and lived through, and both have made their mark.
One thing I've come to learn, which sounds awfully cliché, is the power of love.
We can influence it, choosing what and upon whom to focus it, feeding it so it grows, or starving it so it diminishes, but we cannot simply control it. Love isn't something that is under our control, in our domain, it is a force that is above us and beyond us, not that which we can dominate as we see fit.
Love is out there, and when we are open and allow it, it comes to live within us. It is the force that connects us one to another, that gives life its meaning and makes everything else fade away.
As I sat in the sheer beauty of the Swiss Alps in the summer just gone, it was love that drew my mind back to a bench in East London. Despite being surrounded by the majesty of nature, it was a shoddy old bench, overlooking an unpleasant tower block, in a run down area of East London, where I really wished I was, where I'd have swapped it all for in a instant. A shared memory that I yearned to live again.
It all just goes to show, the external, the career, the achievements, the travel, they are not the goal for which we search.
Love is the purpose of our lives. It is only in the connection to those we love, that we are truly fulfilled, that we are truly home.
2020 has been one hell of a year. Here's hoping that the experiences each of us have been through, the stormy seas that we've had to weather, those we've shared and those unique to each of us, will help us find our way home in 2021 and beyond. I hope all of that for me, and for you.