What 2020 has taught me.

The year that this has been will go down in history. You do not need me to tell you this — nor do you need me to summarise every cataclysmic, catastrophic, monumental and world-shattering event that has taken place. Celebrity deaths, pandemics, protests, politicians and explosions, we have seen it all this year and I would be wasting everyone’s time rehashing what was a traumatic year for many.

I will certainly discuss what the year has taught me. From life’s greatest events, tragedies, upheavals and shake-ups, there are lessons to be learned. As difficult and as challenging as 2020 was, we all have learned our greatest lessons from the positions we were placed in and the moments we witnessed.

Life is too short.

Indeed, this adage is tried and true and has been yearned upon for years. Yet I feel that prior to 2020, at least I myself never quite appreciated this sentiment. It is scarily true that life is far too short, and that 2020 has reminded us of our finite time on this planet, for we may never know what may interrupt our journey through life.

It’s no secret that I idolised Kobe Bryant, so when he, his daughter and seven others were tragically killed in a helicopter crash, I felt the hurt. But it made me realise something: Kobe truly understood that life was indeed too short. He lived his life to the absolute fullest, succeeding in every craft he pursued, so that even when he did tragically die, he left a legacy worth a hundred lives. And if a man with infinite success, money, fame, and influence, can still meet his end at only 41 years old, then it shows us our mortality. Live your life to the fullest, for you may never know when it is your turn for the one appointment that you can never cancel.

When the COVID-19 pandemic became a scary reality, and lockdowns were enforced upon us, we were reminded again on the swiftness of life. In one quick moment we were no longer able to see our loved ones, confined to our homes in order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Just like that we couldn’t visit our grandparents, our parents, our friends and our families. Before we knew it, we were shown that what we love the most can be taken from us under circumstances that we cannot control. As lockdown ended here in Melbourne, it became clear that life was too short to be felled by petty squabbles and disagreements, because we never knew when we would see our loved ones again, if we ever could see them again.

Black Lives Matter, COVID-19 and the US Election brought politics back to the forefront of public imagination, across the entire world. Suddenly, we became divided, during moments that were supposed to unite us. It became Black vs White, Red vs Blue, Lockdown vs No Lockdown, Mask vs No Mask, Vaccine vs Anti-Vaccine, Capitalism vs Socialism, and inexplicably in places outside of the USA, Trump vs Biden. Up was down and down was up. We all have opinions, and we all desire to share them, but there was a way to do it, and the ways in which I saw them irked me to my core. It’s healthy to disagree, and to expect everyone to agree with you is silly and narcissistic, but never let it get personal. Life is bigger than disagreements over politics, and life is too short to lose a friend over a difference in opinion.

Beirut suffered an unimaginable tragedy. A city I love and a country where my heritage lies has suffered so much, that for this to add to it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so they say. In the midst of weddings, dinners, gatherings and life, the Paris of the East was rocked by an explosion felt as far as Cyprus. Quite literally, in a flash, live’s were taken, ruined and changed forever. Homes were lost, lives were lost, and dreams were lost. Only a few years ago had I walked on those streets whilst on holiday and that time the chemicals were stored in that warehouse. That could’ve been me, which I realised, and then made a promise to never waste a day should I not be so lucky the next time.

It cannot be denied, life is too short to be bogged down by silly grievances, for we never know when we may meet our end. Chase your dreams, hug your loved ones, enjoy life.

Take nothing for granted.

Another adage, yes, that has finally been drummed into our collective minds given the year we’ve had. It’s telling what we took for granted prior to this year, and I hope, I sincerely hope, that you and I shall never, ever take these things for granted again.

When Kobe Bryant died it sparked a wave of mourning, realising our mortality. He was known as a legendary, fierce and polarising competitor. As a sports lover, never again did I want to take another athlete’s greatness for granted, for we never know who may be the next Kobe, knock on wood. He was famous for his mentorship to his daughters, reminding us of the love and commitment our parents gave us, and whenever I show frustration to my own parents, I think of the grief over Kobe’s death, and not even be able to begin to imagine my grief should that happen to my parents or those closest to me. I pledged to never take my parents, my family, and my friends, for granted.

Beirut blew up, striking to me how lucky I am to be living in Melbourne, despite what some detractors may want you to believe. The Lebanese Government are the gold standard for corruption and ineffectiveness, so the explosion in Beirut was the cherry on top of an already dire, strenuous situation. It taught me how lucky I was to live in a city, a state, and a country, where I am looked after and cared for, where my family and I won’t be forced to fend ourselves, where 2,700 tonnes of explosive material are not left at our ports unattended, waiting to spark and explode. I realised how lucky I was to live in a country with a government, that at the very least, tries. I will never take where I live for granted.

COVID hit and we were all locked down. Life’s simple pleasures and daily routines were swiftly taken away. Cafes and restaurants were closed, gyms were shut, places of worship left empty and our friends and family further apart than we’d ever imagined. I never thought that I would never be able to enjoy a coffee with my friends, a steak with my parents or a big workout at the gym, yet here I was and here we were. Twice they were each taken from us, due to the second lockdown in Melbourne. After the second lockdown, on my first coffee catchup with my friends, I nearly cried. In fact, I forgot how to place my order to the lovely waitress — and that exact moment, I swore to never taken such simple pleasures, like eating out, for granted. Even when I went to the gym for the first time in five months, I was stunned. The feeling of being able to lift weights and work my muscles, the feeling of being able to push my body to its limits once again was a feeling sorely missed. I could never take the ability to exercise for granted, after that.

To 2020, as we leave your messy, crazy, bipolar self behind, I wish to thank you. I thank you for all of the lessons, reflections and discoveries. Though not all of us will gladly remember you, we will still remember you for what you’ve shown us, even with your sick methods.

As we leave the year behind us, let us all remember that life is too short, and to take nothing for granted.

Happy New Year everyone, and may your 2021 be blessed, peaceful and prosperous.

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