As we leave 2020 behind, it is oh-so-tempting to kick it to the curb and forget it ever happened.  It was a year filled with pain and suffering, anger and angst, many questions but few answers.  It was a year of fear, and of unpleasant surprises, and of unexpected plot twists seemingly every day.  It really was a year to forget.

But it was also a year full of lessons that we would do well to remember.  We can learn from the scorched-earth devastation that was 2020, and if we do, we can all help make a better tomorrow.  We did not all learn the same lessons, but there are common threads throughout that will resonate with many.

Some lessons from 2020:

Kindness always matters, and it wears different faces.  It might be dropping off a meal to someone in need or thanking people who make our very lives possible – whether they be healthcare workers or grocery workers. Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile.  It certainly includes wearing a mask in public during a pandemic and adhering to basic safety protocols.

This includes being kind to yourself. I hope this has become easier and more natural for you this year; it is of critical importance.

We really are all in this together.  This is more closely related to practicing kindness then might be apparent at first glance.  Without the large and small contributions of many, the rest of us suffer.  And this means ALL others, for we all have made contributions that make life better for someone.

Every single vote matters.  We must do everything in our power to eliminate voter suppression in all its forms.

Leadership requires compassion.  Whatever or whomever you are leading, make sure you lead compassionately.

Our batteries need recharging more often during challenging times.  While it might have felt like we were doing less than we have in the past, we have all been worrying more and stressing harder.  We need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.

Family is our most important possession.  Whether we lost someone, were able to appreciate ours more deeply due to the forced confinement we shared, or deeply missed the dear ones we usually spend our holidays with, love of family and increased understanding of their importance crystalized for many of us this year.

We need hugs.  Period. 

We can do hard things.  Teachers, students, and parents all found themselves in new educational roles this year, and the degree to which academic success was achieved was a direct result of all parties being willing to try new methods and embrace the changes we were forced into, rather than focusing on the unfairness of it all.

Science matters.  Scientists aren’t always right, but they are always searching for the right answer.  When new information presents itself, making old information obsolete, scientists embrace the new and move on from there.   We would do well to follow their example.

Reading is fun!  So is crafting!  I knew this, but the interest was reawakened in 2020 as we all sat home, unable to partake in our usual social activities.

We can cook! Whether it was bread, or meals, or new cocktail inventions, our creativity in the kitchen grew by leaps and bounds.

2020 sucked, to be sure. But whether we realize it or not, we have all taken some pieces of wisdom from the dumpster fire to carry us forward to bigger and better things. Not all have been articulated here; there are always many lessons to be learned from any situation. Let’s focus on those positives, then. Focus on where we’ll be a year from now having learned, or re-learned, these lessons, and have a safe, happy, and healthy 2021!

Oh – and 2020? Don’t let the door hit ya in the ass on your way out.