How I Visioned 2020 And How It Changed Me

On the stroke of midnight, as we clinked our champagne glasses, I made a toast to 2020; May it be a year full of promising projects. Excited, I read through my new year resolutions – travelling was on top of the list. The year had started well. Or so I thought. China and COVID-19 were far from my mind and life carried on through its normal course.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra

It only took three months before my plans would be compromised. With the lockdown, everything I considered doing, any plans, any projects were put on hold. I postponed all immediate travel plans. It was too early to get upset. I had to find ways how to ride the anxiety and fear that I knew would soon grab hold of me. Would it be better to take on a project that I had put off for years or challenge myself to a brand new one?

When I was at work, feeling tired and unmotivated, I longed to be at home. I longed to be safe in my bubble, away from the frantic activities. But, once the tables had turned, and I was no longer allowed to leave the house and with social distancing, I craved interacting with others. Yes, human beings are ridiculous. We are never satisfied with what we have.

Being unchained, without any guidance, it was hard to keep to routine. I did not like my freedom. I felt lonely while being overwhelmed by the constant presence of family members. Though I took up several projects for the sake of keeping me grounded, I soon found that I was lacking patience. In my job, I need a bucketful of it to deal with clients. Alone, I find it hard to settle on a plan.

“You must be willing to give up what you are, to become what you want to be.” – Orrin Woodward

Being someone who craved human touch, I initially disapproved of the virtual world. But I needed to be part of a community which would be essential for my well-being. So, I decided to take up meditation and mindfulness. Being part of a tribe, each morning acknowledging each other’s weaknesses and strengths, gave me an energy boost for the day. I soon looked forward to the hourly session and forgot about my aversion to Zoom.  The support and reassurance I needed, were aplenty.

When it came to work alone, I found it difficult to be creative when surrounded by worries and doubts. Back in the summer, I set up my easel, eager to create a masterpiece. I assumed I could pick up from my college days … before babies and work/life challenges. I was kidding myself. So, what happened? In my mind I was still the talented artist I once were, but I lacked practice and motivation. The passion formerly there, has now disappeared.

Painting to an artist is as important as breathing, eating, and drinking. Too much of self-criticism stopped me growing. I did not commit or persevere – I was unfocused. Five months later, the canvas is still half painted and will remain such, until inspiration comes back.

Meditation opened my mind and taught me to be more flexible in my way of thinking and acting. My life has been steered in a new direction. I have learned to accept this new challenge and create new habits. Now I give myself time for reflection and simplify my projects.

Change your thinking and it will change your life.

Though I have not been able to get on a plane, I have travelled the world virtually. I now enjoy reaching and engaging with others remotely. I have made new friends via different virtual communities. I am more creative, flexible, and resilient. So, even if you are going through a bumpy ride, by changing your way of thinking, it will in turn change your life.

Let Your Light Shine

The Festival of Lights, also known as Diwali, starts this weekend for a duration of five days. It is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains around the world, to commemorate the triumphs of light over darkness. In other words, a celebration of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” – Psalm 119:105

As a child, I was mesmerised by rows and rows of small clay lamps. I did not know, that not only did they light the homes and yards of my neighbours, but also the hearts of the communities. The rich smell of incense and the aroma of sweet and savoury delicacies bonded different religions and cultures together. We became one community with one objective: Fellowship.  Of course, all I was interested was to tuck in a platter of delicious gulab jamuns, laddoos, barfis and halwas.

“Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5

Diwali is an example of a time to reflect on our thoughts and actions. In 2020, we have been faced with unexpected challenges. We have gone through illness, isolation, job losses and death of someone close to us. Often our lives have been taken over by fear and anxiety. Depression has made us hopeless. Our self-belief has disappeared.

When we lose hope, we forget that we have a light within us that never dies. We forget that we have the power to overcome darkness. We stop loving. We stop smiling. We stop living. The only thing that stops us is ourselves when we wallow in sadness and self-pity. We must overcome self-destruction and reach out for the light. We must let go of our negative tendencies.

Arise, shine for your light has come

When we tap into our spirituality, we become aware that we can change our way of thinking. It is like turning on a light in a darkened room. The darkness disappears. And as the light appears, it clears out all the negativity within. It fills us with peace and positive energy. We let go of fear and judgement and welcome faith, hope and love.

Be the Light That Help Others

On World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis wrote on Twitter:

“The ability to stretch forth our hand shows that we possess an innate capacity to act in ways that give meaning to life.”

It is a sign that speaks of closeness, solidarity, and love. It is also an inspiration to better understand some of the initiatives that have been taken to offer concrete support and help to families who find themselves in objective difficulty.

So, today, be the light for someone who could be hurting. Reach out to them and bring them comfort and hope. Enrich their lives with love. People are attracted to others who radiate light. Let us not be selfish and hold on to the light for ourselves, like lighting a lamp and put it in a cupboard. Instead, set it on the table for it to give light to everyone around.

“A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” – Denis Waitley