2020 was a harsh year for most of us. No need to elaborate on the global level here. On the personal level, like many others, it was tough for me on many fronts. But one thing I learned from the year that the pandemic dominated the world was mental resilience. Its disruption demanded me to adapt not just my behaviours but also my mindsets.
In 2019, before the coronavirus time, an internal call urged me for changes. 2020 was supposed to be the year I put some goals into actions. One of them was to break the cycle of travel back-and-forth between Washington DC and Bangkok. COVID-19 grounded me not to go anywhere anyway. It also allowed me to re-examine what I needed to focus on.
The only travel was to Jamaica in March for a visa run. When I got back, the office was closed and we started working from home. Then the city imposed the lockdown order in April.
As the gym closed, workout routines were limited to yoga and cardio at home on YouTube. That got me a chance to put my effort into one exercise I always wanted to do—outdoor running. That plus daily walks opened me up to explore more of the neighbourhoods.
It led me to a new personal project—discarded masks and gloves on the streets. In May, when a new phone arrived, I started taking photos and posting their images on Instagram. They became an anchor that I hold on to when the waves of turmoils crashing in throughout the year.
Just to name some. The complication with work contracts, expiring passports both Thai and Australian, Black Lives Matter Movement, my father’s hospitalisation, the US election. (I couldn’t help myself caring about it.), and protests in Thailand—perfect recipe for feedback loops of anxiety and depression. Been there, not a fan.
The only one I talked to regularly in person was my landlady, Aminyah, who also faced her own mishaps, losing family members and other stresses. My condolences to those who lost loved ones. What I’d been through was not nearly comparable to them. The best I could do was just some acts of decency, including some spaces between us. We all needed and deserved it.
Journalling had a big part to play. Early on the lockdown, I jotted bullet points of daily activities but that didn’t last. Later on, I created a spreadsheet template for logging what went on in my daily life in separate columns: work, food, drinks, media consumption, shopping, etc. That also log the numbers of daily COVID-19 infections in DC and Thailand to mark the sign of the time. Geeky but so easy to keep track. That was a keeper.
Logging was also a condition I made to myself to consume weeds.
Another exploration was my own inner world. I got to read just one book then turned to audiobooks. As a dyslexic person, it introduced me to other great minds I’d like to expand. In addition, I went down a rabbit hole of astrology. It began with my curiosity on the correlation between astrological alignment and the havocs we had in the real world. Apparently, 2020 was a significant year for both astronomy and astrology. It pointed me to look at my natal chart differently. It helped me understand myself more so that I could move on.
Speaking of moving on, a flashback popped up during a shower one morning. That image was the first day of a school year. It was the excitement of not knowing what we’d learn or who I’d meet in the year. Growing up, I kind of lost that perspective along the way and became frustrated by uncertainties which were a lot in 2020 and recent years. Back to the original goals I wanted to achieve from 2019. I don’t think I could hit those without this mindset.
One final takeaway from the journey in the inner world was gratitude. Each day we faced different levels and types of challenges: logistically, physically, mentally, and spiritually. There must be one thing on the day that you can be grateful for. For examples: the weather (good for a walk or so bad that I slept in); a chat with the Aminyah, friends, and colleagues (in person, phone, or online); random stuff on the streets (PPEs, chairs, shoes—my obsessions); crazy planet alignments in the sky (I don’t know about you but I felt the deep vibration on the Great Conjunction); and so on. Of course, they were logged in the spreadsheet.
I didn’t just get through the year but also gained a lot from it. That is blissful to go forward to 2021 and beyond. So, thank you, 2020.
2019 Wrap post ended with a challenge: “2020, I’m up for it!” Oh boy, I really didn’t know what I was asking for, did I? Well, what I want to do next won’t be easy. But you know what. 2021, bring it on!
Selfie Month by Month
- January: the toilet in an Ethiopian-French restaurant in Mt Pleasant
- February: the toilet in U Street Music Hall, only live music event attended
- March: haircut in Montego Bay, Jamaica
- April: shopwindow in Adams Morgan
- May: temporarily closed dentist in Mt Pleasant
- June: closed restaurant on G Street, between my office building and the White House
- July: Chinese restaurant on 14th Street, for takeaway only
- August: a pile of dumped furniture while running around the neighbourhoods
- September: mask PPE in Columbia Heights on the autumn equinox
- October: glove PPE on U Street on an errand to the Thai Consular Office
- November: vacant shop on Park Road
- December: on the plane transitting from Incheon to Bangkok