2020 – The year that was!

By Maram Behairy & Sana Saif

It’s in our nature as human beings to create beginnings and ends to time. While the days flow in a continuous stream of sunrises and sunsets, creating structures such as weeks, months, and years allows us to reflect on the past and intentionally create our future.

2020- a look back

Even though we know very little is in our control, as humans we cannot help but make plans or at least have expectations for the way life will unfold. For some 2020 was the year they were going to get the big promotion or raise; kids were going to take that important exam they had been preparing for a while; graduates were to embark upon a new phase/adventure of their lives; couples were going to have the dream wedding and honeymoon; others had their to travel arrangements to see their parents, kids or relatives.

All those dreams and plans came crashing down by an unseen force of nature noone had even imagined, let alone planned for. COVID-19 was nature’s way of showing us that no matter how advanced we become technologically or how many secrets we may unearth, we are not invincible. That she wants us to slow down, reflect and start anew. That nature doesn’t hasten and yet completes all of her cycles. That she is inevitable!

Entire bustling cities and markets locked down, travel bans, millions of lives and livelihoods lost, human endurance tested beyond measure, social distancing, ‘stay-at-home’, masks and hand sanitizers became the new-norm and internet/TV the new best friend. 

As the world reeled with the effects of coronavirus, other natural and man-made disasters added fuel to the fire with the cruel death of George Floyd at the hands of police taking the world by storm. Black Lives Matter took a center stage in protest demonstrations and conversations around the world. As the struggle grew stronger and voices louder, there appeared to be no let up on the coronavirus front. Beirut Port Blast ripped through and razed an entire city in a matter of seconds; California, Greece and Australia battled with the worst wildfires known to man; earthquake in Turkey and Puerto Rico; hurricanes in Central and North America, and cyclones in Bangladesh; political wars and more were simply increasing the toll in an already bursting pool of death and destruction across the globe.

On a timeline of the year that was, 2020 has probably broken all the records of doom and gloom. This year has been transformative. We’ve come face to face with our demons as a society and as individuals. It hasn’t been easy, being challenged rarely is. Whether it was being tested by our own mortality, financial security, mental stability, or relationships, we have all felt the strain in one way or another. While we have no control over how life challenges us, we do have a say in how it will shape us moving forward. Did we learn something new about ourselves or about society? Can we see our priorities more clearly? Did the struggle expose our deepest wants for the future? Can we trust and surrender ourselves to our Creator?

The silver lining

The events of this past year have brought forth the spirit of humanity like never before. While travel bans and lockdowns increased the distance, they also brought us closer. A new army of warriors in scrubs was created who sacrificed everything to ensure those suffering from COVID-19 could find peace and comfort away from their families. Unprecedented numbers of people were fed through the humanitarian efforts and food drives, and social media communities became support and counselling platforms to deal with the pressure and trauma of COVID-19 reality.

Nature completed yet another of its cycle and we are now in the recovery phase. A vaccine has been introduced that can hopefully protect us from the coronavirus and pave the way to a new normal. The fact that the vaccine was created within a year speaks volumes to our resilience. We may not be invincible, but we are survivors. Let’s take the lessons learnt, losses born, and bonds created as our guides for a stronger, healthier, and safer future.

The way forward

Now at this transition to a new year, what are your dreams for yourself, your loved ones, your communities, and the world?

Often times, we do not allow ourselves to dream. We don’t allow ourselves to imagine what we want because it makes not having it more painful…because we feel guilty and greedy for wanting…because we look in the mirror and feel undeserving of more.

It takes courage and trust to dream. It takes courage and trust to want. It takes courage and trust to say it out loud. It takes patience to keep speaking it until the gap between our reality and our dreams shrinks.

We have all been schooled on the proper way to set goals and the grit it takes to achieve them. While these tips have merit, they can also be limiting us to our intellect and the paths that only our human intellect can see.

We invite you to dream without intellectual limits, without reason or logic, without practical considerations, and without guilt. Make heartfelt dua with conviction, conviction that Allah will make your dreams a reality. Allow yourselves to want and allow yourselves to be greedy with your Creator. The truth is, Allah gives us not because we are deserving. Allah gives us because giving is His nature.

Please share your dreams for 2021 in the comments below.

Sana Saif
Author: Sana Saif

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