Gusto in a Dangerous Time

January 28, 2021

As we round the corner on the first month of a new, hopeful year, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Mike Vaness pauses to reflect on what still might be salvaged from the flaming wreckage of 2020.

It would be a massive understatement to say that 2020 was a tumultuous year. Our lives have changed in ways that mimic works of fiction. However, we persevered and made it through, anticipating a brighter new year and promising to better ourselves. This is the time to make some positive changes, bring about new habits or start new hobbies. On the other hand, these new resolutions are often challenging and overly ambitious, and many of us have undoubtedly fallen back into old habits. As such, in 2021, I feel that instead of racing toward a “New Year, New Me,” perhaps we should look back upon the year we’ve just wrapped up, and find some positivity and growth that was mixed within all the chaos.

Looking back on the holiday season, I think it would be safe to say that our normal routines and expectations completely changed. Normally we would have been busy working out travel plans, matching schedules with work and social events, and attempting to see everyone and go all the places we could. This year there was a lot more emphasis on staying home with online shopping and shipping. It was hard to deal with the reality that we could not visit family or friends during the time when being with our loved ones was most important. I know when this realization first sank in for me, I was feeling quite depressed and sad. I haven’t been able to see my family in over a year, and it does not look like that will change for months to come. With that in mind, I have also come to realize how thankful I am for the new technology that allowed us to be more digitally connected than ever before. 

When I sat down on Christmas morning with just my partner and myself at home, we had a quiet breakfast, opened a couple gifts and took a much more calm and slow pace. We both commented that we were not exactly missing the pressure of having to keep to a tighter schedule – although I admit we don’t have children in our household, so this may not have been the same experience for everyone! We then began to set up a Zoom call for my family, and it was amazing to be able to see everyone’s faces when we spoke with them. It just brings a new level of communication that helps fill the void of not being together in person just a little bit more. New technology is by no means a replacement for being with friends and family in person, but I’m still glad it offers more than what we have had in the recent past.

The flexibility of technology can be positively applied to other aspects of our lives as well, with people being able to work from home and finding an entirely new sense of work and life balance. People have discovered all kinds of new hobbies and projects because they were encouraged to stay home. Many people have been able to explore different creative avenues that before may have been overlooked. I myself have found that I enjoy trying new and different recipes in the kitchen, and trying things that are a bit unusual. It has been an uplifting and fun experience that has allowed me to expand my repertoire for weekday meals.

Looking back at how our lives have changed, we can also focus on how best to move forward. We can see how things have changed on a grand scale, and while we may not want to maintain many of those changes once the public becomes a safer place, there are always some changes that can be made for the better. There is no reason, once we gain more freedom, why we cannot continue our creative pursuits. I will continue to look into new things to try in the kitchen, as well as working with other crafts. For instance, I recently bought equipment to work with casting resin, and am looking forward to trying it out to see where it can lead for future projects.

While we have all had our lives upended, in the end we can either completely ignore the past or try to move forward with gusto and fervor. I think there is a lot of good that can be had from looking to the past, reflecting, learning and gaining perspective. The past year was one of sadness and chaos, but there are bits and pieces that we can pull from it to help us keep moving forward. For 2021 we can try to bring about a new us, because we have grown even in the shadow of a disastrous year. We made it through, and now we can take the best parts of ourselves and decide who we get to be.

Who are you going to be in 2021? How much of 2020 will you take with you? Comment, keep an eye on this space and check out some Low Entropy virtual programming in the new year!

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