Despite being a good two weeks into 2021, it still feels like it’s 2020. And not in the same, normal way it takes us a while to adjust to a new year and a new date in our minds.
The reality is that 2020’s problems haven’t gone away. We’re still grappling with a global pandemic and economic recession; dealing with political upheaval in the US, Hong Kong and the Middle East; and we’re still waiting for Frank Ocean to release another album. We’re not out of the woods just yet.
We’ve previously explored here at DMARGE how the stress of living through 2020 might have dire health consequences – comparable to smoking – on us further down the track. Yet some are suggesting that despite all the doom and gloom, there might actually be a silver lining to 2020.
California-based meditation expert and writer Manoj Dias shared a thought-provoking quote from acclaimed British-Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton, aiming to provoke a mindset shift in regards to how we remember 2020.
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It’s a bold claim, for sure. You can’t just ‘good vibes brah’ away the dunghill 2020 wreaked on our planet and society. But there’s certainly truth to the idea that good times taste all the sweeter when you’ve been denied them for a while. On top of that, 2020 has forced us to reevaluate our current direction as a species, and there’s already evidence emerging that people are making a change.
A good example of this has been how our approach to the arts, culture and hospitality has changed. COVID-19 social distancing restrictions forced many venues and events, such as art galleries, cinemas, restaurants and live music venues – to shut down. It meant that for many, 2020 was quite a boring year, with limited recreation options. Boredom was the least concern for many small businesses, performers and so on who saw their livelihood evaporate almost overnight.
Now, as restrictions are easing in many parts of the world, especially in Australia, we’re seeing a newfound appetite for these sorts of cultural offerings. People missed going out in 2020 and now have a newfound appreciation for the musicians, artists and hospitality workers that not only keep us entertained but help prop up the economy in a substantial way.
The same could be said for travel. With both international and domestic travel still severely curtailed for most of us, it’s really shone a spotlight on what’s important when it comes to travelling. Again, we might see the rise of more sustainable, more mindful tourism practices. There have also been a number of silver linings for the industry.
Another potentially positive impact of 2020 might be how it forces society to reconsider public health. Pre-COVID, wearing masks in public was common courtesy in countries like Japan, for example. Hopefully, this kind of consideration sticks around, even in societies that previously didn’t bother. Let’s hope other good habits stick too: people being more aware of disease transmission; having hand sanitisers in public places and – from a governmental point of view – more investment in healthcare.
Maybe it’s all just an exercise in wishful thinking. But that’s better than being hung up about how bad 2020 was. It’s time to move forward; learn some lessons and be prepared to make the future as good as it can possibly be.