Learning lessons from 2020

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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By Nathan Rice

I ran across an old T-shirt of mine that has “I Survived the Mayan Apocalypse” printed on the front, with the date of Dec. 21, 2012, stamped below the message. December 21, 2012, was the last date on an ancient Mayan calendar, and some people considered it a message of doom. It wasn’t taken seriously by too many people, but there was a lot of talk about the Mayan doomsday “prophecy” during 2012. I looked at that shirt the other day and said to myself, “I need a 2020 shirt like this one!”

I am sure many of us feel that we simply survived 2020, and I can’t say I haven’t felt that way sometimes myself. It wasn’t an easy year for most of us. Yet, I am hopeful that we won’t say that we just survived in 2020. I hope we will come out of 2020 stronger than we entered, having learned a few things from the difficulties we faced.

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2020 showed us that the world is a very fragile place. The world can change in a very short period of time, and many things can be lost in an instant. I hope 2020 helped us shift our focus from things of little significance to the things that really matter. We often neglect the most important things in life, such as faith, family and community, allowing our focus to remain on the things that won’t make any difference in the long run. If we have allowed 2020 to teach us anything, we should have allowed it to teach us to build our lives on what matters and what will last.

In this same vein, 2020 has taught us we should enjoy every moment we have been given. There are times we get so caught up wishing for the past or looking to the future, we miss the blessings in front of us right now. With so much being canceled this year, everything we could do seemed a little sweeter than usual. While 2020 robbed us of so much, I hope it opened our eyes to things it could not take from us and allowed us to enjoy them a little more.

Likewise, I hope we never return to the mentality of “I’ll do it next time.” We have all been guilty of thinking that there were always be another event, another gathering with friends for dinner, another concert, or another family reunion. “I’ll go next time,” we say, believing that there will always be a next time. I hope that we’ve all learned to take advantage of each opportunity in life, because we now know that they are not guaranteed to be there tomorrow.

We can limp out of 2020 happy to have survived the year, or we can walk out of 2020 having learned lessons that will make us stronger for the year we are about to face. The choice is ours.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.