What 2020 Has Taught Me

Grounding at Cileat a week before New Year's Eve

Time surely has its own way to keep flying swiftly against my forgetfulness and taken me under its mercy. The only adamant souvenir I try to recollect is by leaving footprints as much as I can as an act of surrender, not as a futile attempt to fight against it for never in million years I stand a chance. Being self-conscious and time-aware made heaving in one piece throughout 2020 a blessing. It pulled me to take a brief look at how each last day for the past few years was spent through the personal tradition of rumination and reflection:

Wrapping 2016 I finally embraced the part of me that loves aloneness: solitudinarian.

Ending 2017 I made a closure to people who forged different paths (and still wished them a happy adventure).

On the last day of 2018 I learned to reclaim my personal space

Closing 2019 I appreciated small things in life through self-acceptance  

I was a sucker for new year’s resolutions. I remember I once incorporated a habit of making a measurable list of ambitious achievements I was dying to accomplish within a year. I was ambitious enough to think that I was either running out of time or my life would be simply pointless without a series of these accomplishments. I found out later that none was true because the (in)significance of my life stretches far greater.

It was still jogging fresh my memory that on the last day of 2019 I was camping with my close friends. We were sitting on atop a mountain and watching the debilitating fireworks in a light rain. We then spent last minutes of 2019 exchanging new year’s resolution as a reminder of scattering hopes that still resided in each of us. My friends were hoping for graduate scholarships, better jobs, and lover, and any other concrete wish. Their visions of what they hoped were structurally built, unlike mine that was simply to hope we all become the better version of ourselves and be able to reach whatever our dreams are. My wish was a bit unfair because it was too generic and cliché. To be honest at time I had nothing else in mind to utter, except that sentence. If I had only one wish to grant for, it would be still the only wish I wanted to make. I would never regret wishing it.

Then the awaited 2020 had gradually greeted us only with different entrance and expectation. It seemed more like a vile ambush than a warm hug. It let us build piles of hope only to disintegrate within minutes. Many days of 2020 have been a devastating recollection of rockiest episodes for almost everyone’s journey and we were overwhelmed with the difficulties to find our own silver lining in every misfortune. We lost too many people. Plans were delayed and even canceled. We took a detour of heading our dreams. We suffered and felt miserable. The whole world was in a state of siege. But here we are, in the end of 2020.

The experience of surviving 2020 and tried to continue living on even with our heart broken and dreams buried was the highlight of the year. I felt it too. There was a day was I paralyzed by sadness enveloping me with feelings of gloom patched painfully on my feet while doom and foreboding hammered heavily in my heart. There was a day did I realize that my own breathing had become the only thing I was grateful for. There was a day did my gaze shrink into nothingness that even a good laughter couldn’t ease. There was a day did my body nonchalantly function out of necessities. Despite the sensation of being ravaged by the scourge of uneasy feelings, I am lucky I still managed fine. I was still able to channel these emotions through contemplation in the nature and recalibration my spiritual compass.

To me life appears as mystery I couldn’t fully comprehend but feel. The more I try to make sense of it, the more I get lost in it. In accordance with 2020 the subtle realization hasn’t come by accident. It has the purpose. That being able to hold people we loved on our arms is more than enough. That being able to stay sane and kind is more than enough. That being able to serve some food on the table and sleep under a solid roof is more than enough. That being able to keep your friends closer is more than enough. That being able to breathe is more than enough. Minimizing the room for hatred, jealousy, revenge, just because we’re in this together. We are equally confused and broken in so many different ways.

Personally, the urge of striving to be a better person in terms of appreciating life and moments has been my purpose these past few years. Each moment I feel tells me something. Each person I meet guides me somewhere. These past few years life has been so kind to cultivate the gratitude in me. Sadness and happiness, pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, those are not only bound by limited labels of feelings and meanings, but also preserves the signs and premonitions of what life is about to teach me. I am still learning to establish a deep gratitude in small things that actually matter that sometimes get skipped by my daily preoccupation. I am still learning to open up to people around me by sharing my loudest laughter and deepest tear. I am still learning to stay close to My Creator. I am still learning to stay true to myself.

This moment has reiterated that I should be grateful to have befriended my grief without getting consumed in it. I am grateful to have known the hopelessness without suppressing it nor ignoring it. I am grateful that I am still able to feel and love. In this overwhelming world, we have two options of reaching equanimity in facing life’s absurdity: feeling too much or numbing too much. Milan Kundera once voiced a rhetorical question through his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) on this matter, 

“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens us therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfilment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”


Being (in)significant is only a matter of choice equally the same. We have had hopes and we are now picking up its pieces. We are disappointed and we are now recuperating. However bad it has gotten (and may get worse in the next upcoming years), 2020 was way too precious not to take the lessons from. If I let it just pass unto my unconsciousness like the air rummaging my lungs, I would have not weighted my life as meaningful as it should have been. Through the heartache, the scar remains. Through the sadness, the happiness lies. Through the loss, the appreciation fortifies. Through the darkness, the light enters. Through the time, the depth finds. Through days gone by, my wish would be the same:

May we all become the better version of ourselves and reach whatever our dreams are. 

Happy New Year, dear friends.