When I think of 2021, I think of dust settling. I think of a shell-shocked global community, collectively trying to recover from a year which none of us could have predicted. I feel as though we are all trying to heal from an unexpected trauma which left us feeling hurt, weak and vulnerable. Some of us lost love ones or became sick ourselves. Others lost their jobs or found their careers derailed, losing income. Some of us had to withdraw from study. Others lost their homes. Families were split up by borders. Lovers kept away. Domestic violence victims were unable to escape…
And not one of us, not the young, the old, the rich or the poor saw it coming. It just hit us.
There is a fear attached to this. We are in a community state of hypervigilance, jumping at every potential threat. Our fear makes us afraid to let ourselves seen, lest this unknown, unpredictable, cruel perpetrator chooses to strike again.
Amidst the chaos, loss, fear and tears that has sprawled itself across our lives this last year however, there has also been hope. There has been hope that things will change. There has been kindness, and generosity to those who have suffered loss. There has been great innovation. There has been a shakedown of values which pulled us away from out homes and families. Our employers, schools, and Governments reminded us that our health, and family matter. There has been courage and commitment by essential services workers, medical personnel and researchers.
In the past money came before health. Medical researchers would spend years fighting for the funding needed to find cures and treatments for our most vulnerable citizens. In 2020 however, this all changed. Medical researchers, doctors, scientists were given the resources and the support they needed to find a vaccine to protect us from the disease that tore our lives apart. This was a miracle. Not a miracle we wanted to need, but it was a miracle, nonetheless.
We know it cannot reset a clock and bring back our loved ones lost. We know also that the invent and availability of a vaccine will not make everything ‘normal again’ overnight. In Australia alone we have 25 million people needing protection – around the world 8 billion more waiting to be vaccinated. We know that the vaccination roll out will take some time – but it will happen. We know now that we can start to hope again.
I had my first dose of my COVID-19 vaccination last night. It took less than ten seconds for the friendly nurse to administer, and she gave me a lollipop. I took myself home, snuggled up in my warm bed and fell asleep… After first texting a loved one who, due to the pandemic, is 10,000 miles away. I did not feel sick, I was not in pain… The scary social media posts and fear mongering reports were wrong. Everything was fine.
When I started to undress, I saw the tiny little sticky bandage on my arm. I am not a very big person, and the bandage is tiny even on me. Covering a needle prick that is even smaller. I had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach when I looked at it. Something like a feeling of butterflies. That feeling that you get when you are at the start of something new – anticipation, possibility and hope.
So many of the key moments and events in our lives look or feel small from some angles – be it the small piece of advice that changes our outlook, or that chance meeting with someone who changes our life. It could be the one voice that inspires a revolution, or simply a smile that pulls you out of a slump. We may not feel that our one voice or smile is a big deal – but so often we are wrong after all, it is from tiny seeds that great trees grow.
In the same way, when I think of all the things that happened in 2020, all the hurt, tears and losses… This bandage doesn’t seem to be big enough to mend it all…. But it is a start…. a step towards hope. The next step towards our collective healing.