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Friday, January 01, 2021

Five Lessons that 2020 have Taught Me


“Most people miss their whole lives, you know. Listen, life isn't when you are standing on top of a mountain looking at a sunset. Life isn't waiting at the altar or the moment your child is born or that time you were swimming in deep water and a dolphin came up alongside you. These are fragments. 10 or 12 grains of sand spread throughout your entire existence. These are not life. Life is brushing your teeth or making a sandwich or watching the news or waiting for the bus. Or walking. Every day, thousands of tiny events happen and if you're not watching, if you're not careful, if you don't capture them and make them COUNT, you could miss it. You could miss your whole life.”



When I was in the Philippines, we used to run around the house making a lot of loud noise as the clock signals New Year. This was to drive away all the bad luck and negative vibes from the previous year. I am certain that we had those many moments for the past months where we wished we could just simply muffled everything that 2020 has unloaded on us.


Well, it’s over. The year that was laden with news after news of tragedy, calamity, uncertainty, loss, and suffering could finally rest at the deepest recesses of our existence. However, the lessons of 2020 should not be forgotten lest we’d let the greatest tragedy to befall ourselves- that of lacking empathy, discernment, and accountability.

1. We are all interconnected

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a cataclysmic problem brought not just by irresponsibility of one but the disconnect of the rest of the world. By failing to acknowledge early on that we had a problem, we allowed the virus to overpower our strength as humans. The price was expensive- lives lost, worsened mental health issues, livelihoods affected, and the future in limbo

2. Life is fragile. 

“The truth is like a dried dandelion; how suddenly it can be whisked away, only to leave behind gleanings of uncertainty .”

Hundreds of thousands of lost lives. How do you mourn the loss of this extent? No other words except love more, care more, forgive more, and live a more meaningful life. 

3. Suffrage is not just a right but a responsibility.

Some world leaders awed us, others were utterly repulsive, and whatever category your world leaders belong, remember that you were part of the reason why they’re sitting in power. Leadership is not just about power but compassion, perception and action. You put clowns in  power, then the response at times of great calamity would be a joke.

4. Financial Responsibility

When our state froze all work except essential workers, we were left wondering how our savings would last us to pay our monthly bills. Unemployment was a mess, stimulus checks were uncertain (because of me being an immigrant), and the length of restrictions were ambiguous. It’s the opportune moment  to be reminded, “Do not save what is left; spend what is left after saving.”

5. Family matters.

Many months of swimming with ambiguousness. The mental and physical fatigue had been overwhelming but who you are with matters. Pre-pandemic, my husband and I would always go out every Friday for a date night. Mostly, it’s eating in the restaurants, watching movies in the theatre, or walking at the pier. When the chaos ensued around the world, we found different ways to spend our longer times together. We binge watched Game of Thrones, Cobra Kai, The Umbrella Academy, The Adventures of Merlin, Homeland, Schitts Creek, and many more. We also found time to do more outdoor activities.


There are no gentle words to recap what we all surpassed in 2020. Others were not as lucky to see another year. Some are continuously struggling. 

As we embark upon healing and moving forth, may be reminded of the things that matter the most- love, faith, hope, compassion, accountability and neighborly. 

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