This will be my last blog post of the year, and it’s hard to know what to say about 2020. I’m not going to give in to the glibness and gallows humour of “it’s all been terrible”, because I really believe that the hardest times are the greatest teachers.
But how to sum up in a few short words a year that has been dominated worldwide by the coronavirus, an invisible foe that has infected an estimated 74.2 million people worldwide, and been a factor in 1.65 million deaths? For those of you who will be missing someone you love this festive season, you have my sympathy and best wishes.
Then there has also been George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, 5G, Brexit, Sussexit, Trump and the US presidential election, and of course the billions of daily dramas, big and small, that loom large for each of us as individuals, families, and communities.
For me personally, it has been a year to remember for The Gifts of Solitude, TEDxStroudWomen, my doctoral programme (on Wednesday I submitted what I hope is my final version, so fingers crossed I may become Dr Roz early next year), the Sisters, and the SEEDS currency (of which you will probably hear much more in 2021). It has been my first full year in Gloucestershire, and I have counted my blessings every single day to live surrounded by so much natural beauty, and to be able to get out for my daily walks even at the height of the pandemic.
As usual, I’ll be doing a big year-end review, and an envisioning exercise for the coming year. My gut feeling about 2021 is that it will be a year of challenge and transformation – we will see the ongoing fallout of the COVID-induced economic downturn, which will cause great hardship for many – and as so often happens, crisis will birth new and hopefully better ways of doing things.
I don’t have a crystal ball, so your guess is as good as mine, but in 2021 I expect to see a growing number of women stepping up into positions of leadership. I see dramatic changes in how we work, with a lot less office space and a lot more working from home, with an associated flow of people out of cities and into the countryside in search of a better quality of life once they are no longer tethered to a daily commute. I hope that this will be accompanied by workers having more autonomy and being treated as responsible adults, with more emphasis on actual results rather than competing over who can put in the most hours at the office. And I hope we see a reprioritisation, as people have had more time during furloughs and lockdowns to reflect on what matters – matters of health, relationships, work/life balance, time in nature, and a sense of purpose.
Environmentally…. I wonder. While it is tremendously encouraging to see cities like Amsterdam, Portland and Philadelphia embracing Doughnut Economics, and the drop in carbon emissions with the dramatic reduction in flights and travel generally, but atmospheric CO2 continues to rise, and I’m not at all reassured that the UK government is doing a good job of preparing for COP26 (Christiana Figueres, where are you when we need you?!).
As to how history will regard 2020, it is too soon to tell. Astrologers and empaths are predicting a deep shift in humanity’s collective psyche, starting from the winter solstice on Monday. I know little about such things, but I do sense that change is in the air. It’s likely to be a bumpy ride for some time to come, but I’m cautiously optimistic that ultimately, we will look back on 2020 as a turning point for the better.
Meanwhile, wishing you a very merry midwinter/saturnalia/Yule/ Chanukah/Eid/Christmas/non-specific holiday, and I will see you in 2021!
Thank you to James Parker for The Coronavirus Prayer, first published in The Atlantic.
In this our hour of doorknobs and droplets,
when masks have canceled our personalities;
in this our hour of prickling perimeters, sinister surfaces,
defeated bodies, and victorious abstractions,
when some of us are stepping into rooms humid with contagion,
and some of us are standing in the pasta aisle;
in this our hour of vacant parks and boarded-up hoops,
when we miss the sky-high roar of the city
and hear instead the tarp that flaps on the unfinished roof,
the squirrel giving his hingelike cry, and the siren constantly passing,
to You we send up our prayer, as follows:
Let not heebie-jeebies become our religion,
our new ideology, with its own jargon.
Fortify us, Lord. Show us how.
What would your saints be doing now?
Saint Francis, he was a fan of the human.
He’d be rolling naked on Boston Common.
He’d be sharing a bottle. No mask, no gloves,
shielded only by burning love.
But I don’t think we’re in the mood
for feats of antic beatitude.
In New York City, and in Madrid,
the saints maintain the rumbling grid.
Bless the mailman, and equally bless
the bus driver, vector of steadfastness.
Protect the bravest, the best we’ve got.
Protect the rest of us, why not.
And if the virus that took John Prine
comes, as it may, for me and mine,
although we’ve mostly stayed indoors,
well—then, as ever, we’re all Yours.
Until further notice,
I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Flint Mitchell for the Seeking Authenticity podcast.
We had our second TEDxStroudWomen webinar last Tuesday evening, on how to speak in public. I got together with two amazing women to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of getting onstage. You can enjoy it here on YouTube. We’ll be having more webinars on TEDx-related topics in the New Year, so stay tuned for those.