This past New Years’ Eve was like no other I have experienced in my long life. It felt to me like
the rituals around welcoming the year ahead were unrealistic in their intentions. I witnessed
many sighing with relief at the closure of 2020. Seeming to be full of joy and possibility for the
365 days ahead of us. I wondered what they knew that I didn’t.
This time a year ago we didn’t KNOW. Travel was being scheduled, escapes to special and
unique parts of the world anticipated with excitement. Wedding plans were being finalized.
Gatherings with friends and family, hugs, and going to movie theatres were so normal they were
barely noticed. We made plans with confidence, set goals, and embraced the first year of the
new decade with energy and optimism.
In early January of 2019, our daughter left on her annual buying trip to Hong Kong. Canceled
only weeks before due to the pro-democracy protests that had become violent, things had
settled. The trip was reinstated and off she went to a city that was looking and behaving more
like southern China as freedoms were squelched. We were concerned for her safety. Corporate
goals overrode individual security and off she went.
There were few signs of violent protests. Instead, there were cautious citizens and western
visitors scurrying about wearing masks. A puzzling trend not witnessed in past visits. Bizarre
stories were emerging of a fresh market in Wuhan China and bats. With minimal details, these
morsels of information sounded more like a horror movie plot than reality. She returned and her
spouse became very ill. A bad flu said the doctor.
The flu became a contagious virus for me on February 19th. Sitting around a dinner table with
friends in a perfectly appointed dining room in midtown Toronto the host’s brother joined us for
dessert. He was returning from a physician’s task force meeting established to examine and
measure the truth and risks of the news and warnings from China. We leaned forward with
questions. It is being called COVID- 19. Coronavirus infectious disease, 2019. His intelligent
eyes and serious tone shifted the mood and energy in the room. He made it REAL.
We have just closed a year with nine months of fear, chaos, illness, death, baking bread,
puzzles, toilet paper rations, home-cooking, homeschooling, social distancing, masks, and
on-line purchasing of everything you need and don’t need, but want. The vaccines are approved
and being administered. The pandemic rages and the numbers of infections and deaths are
largely uncontrollable at this time. Forgive me for not sharing the jubilation over the arrival of
I am leading a movement to channel my attention to the present moment. I am leading a
movement to be creative and intentional in connecting with family and friends. I am leading a
movement to channel energy and courage into something that scares me. More than ever I
need each day to have meaning and purpose. Making plans, goal setting, and relying on fitness
and good eating to keep me healthy are all moot initiatives.