I started 2020 by dedicating it as My Year of Less Distractions. Who would have thought a global pandemic, with lockdowns, would play directly into that aim. Thankfully, no conspiracy theory was triggered.
As 2020 draws to a close, we are being regaled with the usual round of reflective newspaper articles, blog posts, tubie videos and tv broadcasts. Some catalogue the impacts of a curtailed life, shrunken economy and splintered world. Some go ultra positive and push for a better future. Some simply explain how they tried to maintain normality or used the time to seize the day.
So, in 2020, with less distractions, what did I positively seize in an attempt to remove that splinter from my right hand when the left was tied behind my back?
I started this post using a standard format – a list of headings, each followed by a couple of expositional paragraphs. I got bored very quickly with this bland rehashing of repeated themes.
In response, this morning, I started calling these blog posts ‘stories’.
I once tried calling them ‘articles’ but that didn’t feel right. I have no training as a journalist or a writer. Describing my scribbles thus implied either one or the other, or both, which felt like a grievous misrepresentation.
If I call this a story, perhaps I’ll actually write a story because everybody is, was, is becoming Story, with intentional capitalisation on my part. We Are Story.
This story begins in frustration, where a singular interest is a classic one-basket-all-eggs scenario. I find that’s an overwhelmingly boring approach to life, and that boredom increases the risk of failure. Yet, collecting too many hobbies and interests means they all, or most, remain under-developed. Their potential for adding abiding interest to one’s life does not materialise.
The solution, then, is to either scale up or down to match the allocated time and resources.
In 2020, that allocation changes, but the temporary nature of this extra time creates in me a race to progress, to lay substantial groundwork, to be prepared for the day when earning a living will again override living intentionally.
So in March, I start to thoroughly clean my house and decide I need functional rooms that are easy to clean AND that sustain me. A critical eye is cast! Bottom shelves are raised a notch or two. Cupboards reorganised. Pocket vistas of colour are crafted where the gaze can rest and resist the pull of entrophy.
Functional sustenance becomes the mantra. I imagine a single Rothko floating on one wall. Maximum sustenance from a single object.
I invest effort in restoring and expanding my small vegetable garden. I confess to succumbing to the pandemic vegetable pandemonium. Do I really believe I might need to grow my own food? Or am I deploying a motivational strategy that uses external factors to drive pre-existing goals? I’m not saying.
I develop a habit of spraying the surrounding weeds early in the morning. Maybe this year, I will keep the growth of cathead to a minimum. The overgrown and dodgy brick path is pulled up. The rains come, and I scramble to lay more weed matting. I use the weather app to plan the best time of the week to mow.
At the end of March, I upload to Facebook a two-minute narrated tour of the rough and ready in my garden. I create five of these monthly videos but then my focus shifts to online study. Even with all this extra time, prioritising the direction of one’s focus has consequences.
In April, I sign up for free online training through Deakin University Online. In May, I sign up for LinkedIn Learning’s free monthly trial. In June, I’m accepted into Victoria University’s Graduate Certificate in Teaching (Primary) as part of the government’s heavily subsidised National Priority Training scheme. It will be 12 weeks of intense focus, meaning I’m heading back into that problem of the singular interest. Thankfully, online study proves to be very flexible and the singularity is avoided.
Also in June, I re-theme this blog. In August, I do the same for Walking in Parkes. With both, there is the addition of intense colour and improved consistency.
At the end of October, just after the last assignment is handed in, it’s back to work for which I’m thankful but there’s one final opportunity for functional sustenance. With two week’s notice, there’s time to address the problem of what to now wear. After eight months donning only a small fraction of my wardrobe, and facing another hot summer, what do I need to survive, to thrive, in a new workplace? I hope they can cope with colour.
And because there has been time to ponder and dwell and reflect, I find solutions to upcycling my older clothes. I settle upon styles that don’t scream 1980s American patchwork. I decide I must always have a collar … and sleeves. The fabric stockpile is sorted – neutrals, colours, patterns – and within each there is a box for lengths and a box for scraps.
In mid-December, I graduate.
The year has been one of intense introversion, with Christmas a striking contrast.
For December, some beautiful souls have organised an art exhibition, with markets, to introduce the community to the recently refurbished and expanded local library. The quality of the work is striking and restorative. We greet familiar faces as we quickly pass, keeping contact to a minimum while attempting to maximise the connection.
Is there a Coda to 2020? I don’t think I’ll even try.
Tomorrow is simply another day and I’ve already decided that 2021 will be My Year of Remembering. We will not easily forget the year that’s been, but when we move forward we must do so with a clear picture of where we’ve been.
Opps. I think that was a coda.