Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what a recap of 2020 would look like, and where to even start. With so much in hindsight, I landed on a focus on whether and how 2020 has changed us, and/or the way we do things. In doing so, I realized that 2020 has shown us “truths” on many fronts: truths about ourselves, our lives in the day-to-day and beyond, and our world.

Over wine with friends (by Zoom), I brought up the ideas that were beginning to percolate for me, primarily focused on this idea of truth. The conversation then went in a direction I hadn’t expected, as they challenged the idea that there’s only one truth. While there are facts, those can be challenged as a whole, or in part. COVID-19 is a solid example. Despite facts rooted in science, many people don’t believe the “truth” of it. In the same vein, leaders – be those parents, teachers, business owners, religious or spiritual leaders, government heads, country leaders – can bring along their given populations and supporters, even when the basis from where they’re leading is inconsistent with the “truth”. And, of course, social media further facilitates that, as we gravitate towards what we want to be true, or what those we align with/follow believe to be true.

Most of us are impacted and influenced, in some way, by others in our lives and have deep-rooted beliefs (for better or worse) that shape our view of the world, and our personal truths. Even when we firmly believe something in our minds or feel it in our very beings, our own truths may be different – subtly or explicitly – than those of others. As you read on about the truths that have come to light for us here at Jouta, we ask you to consider and reflect on your own view of the truths that have arisen over this past year. Consider how they may be different from what you believed prior to 2020, and how they may shape how you move into 2021.

Truths for ourselves, as individuals

Having to stop and do things differently, and being forced to slow down, many of us were faced with the truth about ourselves – particularly in the midst of a challenging, unprecedented circumstance, with much uncertainty. While the pandemic was witness to relationships falling apart, many people also realized how happy/fortunate they feel with their significant others. Yet others took things to the next level, deciding to have children, for example. Some questioned their lives and the choices they’ve made, and assessed their overall happiness. They realized they had stopped focusing on certain areas, what they were missing, and how they could do things differently. For our team at Jouta, some of the more specific truths were as follows:

  • I love my life. COVID taught me that I can put myself first and the sky doesn’t fall.
  • I navigated the challenges of COVID like I have with my life overall: Life happens, you can’t force it or predict it. You have to live through it. Fear and anxiety is occasionally a part of that, but it doesn’t need to overtake or control us.
  • Being outside in nature and focusing on my health by working out more needs to be a priority.
  • It’s okay for me not to be/feel productive all of the time. Many people went into a flurry of activity to DO, especially during the lockdown (new hobby, baking, cleaning, etc.). These are great, if they nourish you and provide balance, but I realized it’s equally okay to just stop and BE.
  • I had taken some long-time friendships for granted before. I now know and appreciate what good people are in my circle and am very grateful for this!
  • In finally having the time to do things I’ve put off for so long, I realized the importance of seizing the moment.
  • While financial security is important and financial experts were saying “save, save, save” and “prepare, prepare, prepare” I realized that, for me, there’s no time like now. (So with the money I wasn’t spending on travel, I bought my dream mountain bike).
  • Being able to take the time to play silly old board games like Scrabble, Monopoly, and Pay Day with family, or baking or cooking with them is a gift!
  • Our own backyards are huge and offer so much opportunity for adventure: I’ve lived and traveled in BC for nearly 30 years, and yet still visited 3 new places I’ve never been!

Truths of our lives, our day-to-day and how we do things on a broader scale

In addition to the truths of what we experience about ourselves, many of us also realized truths about our broader lives, both in the day-to-day and beyond.

  • We needed a pause so we could reflect on our lives and how we spend our time.
  • We can work differently, more flexibly, less hours, and still be productive/successful. Putting in more hours definitely does not mean being better/more productive.
  • We don’t have to commute long distances or in heavy traffic every day, twice a day to be productive.
  • Due to the ability for many to work remotely, we can move out of the city and live where we previously didn’t think possible.
  • Family – whether blood or chosen – is invaluable, and there’s an abundance of ways to connect with them.
  • Zoom, Google Hangout, House Party, and other video-conferencing platforms are viable (if not perfect) ways to connect with people any time and anywhere.
  • Online learning works really well for some students/parents, whereas others need the structure of a school setting. There’s more than one way and we shouldn’t lose sight of that, going forward.
  • Although it may feel overwhelming, we can all pivot, change direction, do things differently and innovate.
  • People will, usually unintentionally, continue to blame others, even when those others are doing their best; because our individual actions impact others – we must be mindful of how each of us can work to change this.
  • Appreciation, thanks, and gratitude (no matter how small) is immensely powerful, especially at times when it feels most difficult to express.

Truths of our world

When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March, and we all really saw how it was/would be affecting everyone, there was a flurry of media statements about all being in this together, and how this would change the world for the better. While there are truths in that (as highlighted above), the pandemic, in part, also showcased a lack of unity, and where much more focused attention and work is needed, at both systemic and individual levels. It also highlighted how fortunate we are.

  • Black lives matter and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) voices need to not only be heard, but also respected, honoured, and applied towards a new way.
  • People in remote communities and impoverished areas are more vulnerable. Despite, or perhaps because of that, regardless of where they are in the world, people are resilient.
  • With Indigenous culture and the practice of honouring Elders as a guiding model, we can and we must do a better job of taking care of our Seniors.
  • Global warming exists and we can/should all do our part to move the mark.
  • Canadians are truly fortunate to be led (locally, provincially, and federally) by strong and knowledgeable leaders, including our own Dr. Bonnie Henry.
  • Video-conferencing and streaming give us the world at our fingertips, and yet, it’s not the same as being there with the sights, smells, sounds, body language, and connection.
  • Our world can be pretty spectacular, even when we can’t travel and, instead, stay in our own provinces, cities, and towns.

I acknowledge that interwoven through and around the above truths is/has been profound devastation, sadness, and grief. Across the world and in our own backyards, we have lost many to the pandemic, the opioid/poisoning crisis, and other circumstances. Many businesses have struggled and ultimately closed, and individuals have suffered financially, as a result.

And yet, business owners/leaders continue to have the courage to pivot again and again to keep moving forward. We have literally been doing while learning on the spot. We have made many, many mistakes along the way. And people continue to be resilient and compassionate.

Regardless of what our respective and collective truths have been, what we share and how we differ (as we will, inevitably, do both), one truth that I feel strongly about and want to leave you with is this: We simply cannot walk away from this year having not grown, nor not having learned more about ourselves and one another.

Let’s not look back at this year with pointed fingers, considering what could have, should have, would have been. Let’s look back on how, despite our varying truths and realities, most of us collectively banded together to stay home, physical distance, wash our hands, and wear our masks. Let’s look back on how we put our people first, and that yes, we do have the power to make change.