One Word. Encapsulate the year in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2020 for you?
From years past: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010
The one word that captures this year:
Maybe it’s because I am writing two prose pieces that have to do with grieving. One about how my grandmother passed away last year and its effect (and primarily its lack of effect) on me. The other to do with things I miss that will be gone and things I don’t miss. With grief in the pieces’ title, that word is so omnipresent.
It’s ironic, though, because I typically write these entries about a word that is uplifting from resilience to understanding. But how can I really summarize this year? If the pandemic didn’t happen in the way that it did, I probably would say something like comfort or authenticity or truth, because of all the feelings that I can truly be myself since I am at home so much without worrying about what other people think of me. And yet.
I grieve for the loss of the businesses, for the loss of art, for others’ hope and dreams dashed. And at the same time, I know that I am comforted by so many things—I am so free, but that comes out of being in a privileged place and how can I say this in the face of tragedy? How can I say that I am so glad not to have to hug when everyone else is falling apart due to no touch? How can I say that I love sleeping in my own bed when businesses, cities, countries are decimated by the lack of tourism? I am troubled because I am one person and I can’t celebrate my own happiness in face of so much despair. It feels inappropriate. And yet. There’s a ring of truth, isn’t it?
I hear stories of people. Everyday. The struggle of not seeing a loved one. The loss of a dream business. The slow death. They tear my heart. And yet I couldn’t shed a tear for my grandmother. The internal conflict is too much. I grieve for people I don’t know, but I can’t grieve for my own.
Or maybe the word is numbness. I am perfectly happy wearing a mask even beyond the mandatory order. I am perfectly happy seeing nobody. I am perfectly happy cooking, cleaning, etc. on my own. I isolate myself, but everything else is still…there. I am here.
Last year I thought this year’s word would be Gratitude. It could be. But I have been cynical of it late. Is it gratitude if it’s I am grateful that my family didn’t ask me to come to Thanksgiving or I am grateful that my family respects social distancing and mask wearing? I remember earlier sharing that as a gratitude “ice breaker” during a meeting, but it felt like a downer. But I couldn’t help it.
Well next year, another word. I am not in dire straits, so it can’t possibly be survival. But I really hope that it’s hope.