The last day of the year is the perfect time to look back and reflect on what has happened. And more importantly, be grateful. While living in Brazil, I became familiar with a beautiful tradition that is done on the last day of the year. Those who do it do so as a religious ritual. I’m not familiar with the religion but since the first time that I saw it, I have done it every year. On the last day of the year, people offer flowers to the Goddess of the sea. They give her flowers to offer her their gratitude for the blessings that they have received during the year and also to give their gratitude in advance for the blessings that they will receive in the next year. It is a beautiful moment to take stock, in a beautiful place, next to water, to reflect and hope for the next year. I have done this every year for 7 years now, so although this is an act of faith of a religion that isn’t mine, I do it as a moment to pause and focus on all my blessings.
2020 is a year that has been a challenge in so many ways & all year everyone has been willing this year to come to an end.
But we can’t live like this, for wishing for better things in the future instead of focusing on the present, is the very definition of anxiety. However in a moment that is so difficult, how can we do this?
By being present. No matter what that present is.
This year, I felt that my little end of year ritual would be even more poignant than ever. And it wasn’t. We went to the beach, it was -4c and beautiful, blue skies over Scotland! When I came to reflect, it wasn’t difficult. I mentally listed a million reasons that I’m grateful. My family are safe. Healthy. My friends are healthy. I gave gratitude for every second as the loses this year, none of which for me personally were due to Covid-19, but a result of it yes – The job lost, experiences not lived, family tragedy made worse through the pandemic, social distanced funerals & being far from those I love – all this sadness had made me appreciate the seconds that I spent with them. The day trip to Glasgow with Matthew to the crystal shop, the coffees out in nature with Geraldine,the trip to Orkney after the 1st lockdown and looking up at the stars and realising that we really are tiny and all this will pass. The extra time spent with my husband, who truly is my source of happiness. I now miss him when he goes to the office! All of these little things that I had always taken for granted now meant EVERYTHING to me because of the restrictions and sadness.
I realised as I stood on that beach that 2020 was the year that I had finally mastered gratitude. As gratitude isn’t a ritual once a year, or a moment to take stock of the 365 days on the 365th. It is to know loss. To know sadness. To know change.
I realised just exactly what 2020 has taught us. To be present. There really is nowhere else to go in lockdown.
So as 2020 leaves tonight, do not be sad to see it go. Thank it for what it has done for you. It has been difficult. It has been different. But neither of these are a bad thing.