Google Photos recently threw up a memory of me two years ago, a quintessential excited north Indian tourist in Kerala, clicking photos of the wooden stairway and the coconut and papaya trees in the backyard of my mother-in-law’s home.
Looking back now, that younger version of me would never have imagined that it would be my last trip out of Delhi for two years, that the world was heading into something it had never seen before, that we’d all end up prisoners of our homes, trapped in masks, battling invisible demons in the months ahead.
If 2020 left us all somewhat stunned in shock and awe, 2021 pulled the floor out from underneath us. For me, the past year was about coming face to face with my priorities, staring at them until they disintegrated and reintegrated into a new map of purpose, direction and love.
Love especially. In fact, so much and so many loves that my entire world turned upside down and began to spin the other way.
2021 was about grief and coming to terms with loss, but it was also about gratitude for what we have left. It was about changed plans and cancelled dreams, but it was also about realisation of what truly matters. It was about the breaking apart of something outside but also the building up of something else within.
Now as I arrive at yet another new year, I am surprised to notice a new landscape inside my head and in front of my eyes. I took a conscious decision this year to slow down, to sit back and stare out of the window, to observe my breath and the meanderings of the mind, and most importantly to alter the trajectory of my life so that I am there wholly for my beloveds – my immediate family and my volunteer service.
And so, it is totally astonishing and absolutely befitting that I was standing alone as the clock struck midnight at the harbourfront in downtown Toronto, watching the spectacular fireworks over Lake Ontario as strangers around me cheered loudly and hugged their partners and loved ones. My own family is spread all around the world, living their lives and charting their careers, and yet – knowing they are well and healthy, knowing we are never truly apart, knowing that I am blessed beyond words – my heart was warm and content in the chilly Canadian air.
There will be more tomorrows. There will be more hugs and parties and kisses. For the moment, I am, they are, and that is the most amazing phenomenon in the world.
Happy New Year!