The west coast windstorms swept in from the ocean drowning December in its usual cyclical trend. This year, the rain and wind seemed particularly heartless in the year we call 2020. When the rain stopped for a few days, the twinkling lights on houses and patios lit up the night sky, and filled the air with that certain seasonal serenity. It is our cue to take a step back and watch the last days of a tumultuous year evaporate into the darkest day of the season.
2020 has been a roller coaster of highs and lows. It has been challenging and difficult, forcing us to re-examine our lives, to weed out the trifling pressures that weigh us down and make us focus on what is important. 2020 has frustrated us, made us question, divided, and united us. It has made us face the core of our own reality and appreciate how our actions impact humanity. It feels like a cyclone that just won’t stop spinning, but always in the eye of the storm, there are rainbows in the mist.
Just like living with RA or any other chronic condition, 2020 compelled us to adapt and thrive within new boundaries and limitations. I found a quieter present, gave myself the gift of time and self care, and found pleasure in the small joys that lingered on the fringes of a big life. I watched communities come together and saw a willingness for people to step outside the orbit of their lives and give back. We found ways to stay connected, we shared our stories, and made new friends in the most unexpected places. I developed a slower pace in my day to day that made me more productive. I enjoyed spring flowers blooming on the deck, warm summer nights sipping my favorite wine and deep autumn sunsets burning on the horizon. I cherished the beauty in my own backyard. I didn’t let outside circumstances stop the plans I had, I simply altered them.
It hasn’t been an easy year by any means. It’s been ugly, messy, and heart-breaking. It’s also been beautiful and inspiring. Sometimes we unconsciously hide in the haven of our own circle, and that dependable refuge prevents us from being curious and reaching for more. 2020, as hard as it has been, has cracked the shell of my asylum, ripped me from my comfort zone, and pushed me to take risks. I accepted the challenge of this strange year as an opportunity to push beyond my personal and physical boundaries and defy the static routine of my life.
The winter solstice has silently tiptoed into the chaos, and in the hushed shade of the darkest day, I dare to hope and look towards the light of a new year. The change we seek won’t come soon – there’s still a long way to go, but we can go forward with strength, confidence, and the tools to flourish in an unpredictable and changeable world – as we have always done.
We’re almost there…
Wishing you all a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.