Ending with nine squares

This started as an Instagram post but even constructing it in my head, I knew it would be too long for that space, although I should remember this space more often – a place for short and long thoughts, however inconsistent.

2020 was the year I started to understand grief and fear, and perhaps only because the whole world felt it at once. 2019 had been the year where my little family’s world had been torn apart by loss, and the hope for 2020 being better than that kept me going in the most part.

The idea of reducing down our experience of this year to nine photos is an odd but interesting one. The moments most like by others weren’t the ones most liked by me. But it led me to look through my photos of this year and remember the moments that kept me smiling, sane, and held together between the lockdowns and the constant back and forth of change.

2020 was a year of new life met but yet to be held. Of growth from seed and frozen glass panes, to the buzz of bees grown out of the detritus of 2019. Of creating the new with my hands instead of with words. The understanding that I can be many things to many people, and yet not needing to be all to every one.

It was a year of piling up books for a time when my mind will be ready, and yet being awe struck by the six that I did manage to give time and space to. 2021 will be the year that I focus on the new things that the old can teach me – books, ideas, lives.

2020 began with experiences that now feel crammed into the months “before”, because the after was slowly, more sparse, more careful. Those experience feel like they belong to another time, but they will have their moments again I’m sure.

It was a year of making something out of nothing, something out of the good and the bad, something that we could all live with. It was a year where I realised my love of stories stretched beyond fiction, and that leading others in a new way of working would be an unforeseen calling.

2020 was a year when getting soaked to the bone whilst walking, and warming up under a blanket on a friend’s sofa was the most blissful. Where travelling into cities made my bones ache with the tension, and my cheeks ache from the smiles often unseen under masks and yet conveyed.

It was a year when touch went beyond what we had known and needed before, where gestures had their place but the sound of a loved ones’ voice so close you could almost feel it was better.

2020 was the first year in a long time where I’d known so little work I could only plunge my hands into the earth to keep them busy, and so much work that I ached for a moment away from a screen or a self imposed deadline.

It was a year when I walked, paddled, and flew, the highest heights and the lowest lows. I ate straight from the earth, and felt overjoyed when others offered and I could accept their hospitality.

In the last few weeks I just wanted to race towards the new year, tired and overexposed to the brutality the challenges had inflicted. But five days away from my laptop has given me space to see, feel, and relish what was possible.

2021 already holds excitement, fear, new life, old lives, a stretch of time and truth. Every year does, we’re just a little more mindful of it this time around.

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year.

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