Finding the magic in 2020
Let's not sugar coat it; this year has been rough. It has been equal parts trying and tragic, with a global pandemic causing millions of deaths worldwide, domestic lockdowns and a shutdown of international travel, all against a backdrop of social upheaval and division.
Businesses have struggled to stay afloat, while everyone has battled with the mental challenges of separation and isolation. On top of that, society has faced the reality of a long-overdue reassessing of how we deal with race and we have all been forced to finally ask some very serious questions about ourselves.
Each of these - and other challenges besides - have also, in some quarters, been greeted by some with all the self-reflection and dignity of a drunk person having an argument with themself in the window of a kebab shop at 3am.
But this year has also taught us some lessons which we can and should take forward with us. It has, hopefully, helped refocus us all on what is important in our lives and what we want to pay more attention to in the days, months and years to come.
This time of year is often filled with talk about resolutions, but this year "evolutions" seems to be more appropriate. As the world around us has changed, so we have too. Whether we like it or not.
Today, I decided to take a look back through the photos I have taken this year and look at the things S and I have got up to during our successive lockdowns and travel bans and see which of those are likely to play a bigger part in my life going forward.
We have had an awesome time foraging and collecting food and goods in the garden and area around us to create things ranging from blackberry vodka to garlic pesto. We have also had fun exploring the opportunities of markets and small traders to better track what we eat and where it's from.
I have delved deeper into the joyful online communities which champion topics I write about a lot here, such as coffee, mens style and spirits.
The clichéd response of "I did some reading" has taken on a new meaning by helping me recover my love of learning something new and diving into an unknown world to see what I can bring back from it. But, at the other end of the culture scale, I've also enjoyed taking time to spend hours plugged into the digital world of gaming, which itself introduced me to some fantastic characters around the world.
More than anything, I think I have recognised the power and importance of taking a moment and switching off. Whether it be a minute in the morning air with a cup of coffee or curled up with good music, those moments count. With all our holidays cancelled (Australia, Greece and Costa Rica were one the 2020 agenda), S and I have found this as well in the pleasure of holidaying at home and taking the chance to explore places on our doorstep in peace.
This year has shown me the power of being present. There is always a distraction available to us in the world today. We can always have a screen blinking at us, or a background noise to zone us out. Our mind can always wander to elsewhere, while our face stays on the topic at hand. But that is how you miss out.
I have read lots of people saying we will "spend less but spend better" when it comes to shopping in the future. I think that will probably be the case for our time too - it certainly should be.
Here are a few of my 2020 highlights. It wasn't all bad.
Happy New Year.