2020 taught us about waiting … and patience
At the start of each of the past few years, I’ve tried to identify a word to serve as kind of a theme or guide for the coming months.
In January, I picked my word for 2020. It was “patience” and I don’t think I could have picked a better one for the year that was to come.
This year, as we know now, required a lot of waiting.
We’ve had to wait for knowledge about a deadly virus. We’re waiting for people to take this virus seriously and understand that 1. It’s a real thing and a threat and 2. They can take simple steps to avoid transmission and 3. Herd immunity is very far from an ideal option.
We continue to wait for many of our elected leaders to help guide us on the best ways to go about our lives during a pandemic. Parents, teachers and administrators are waiting for school to mercifully return to some kind of normalcy. We are awaiting an effective vaccine.
Also this year, we have witnessed—on a heartbreakingly large scale—what it means to wait too long for this country to recognize and reckon with systemic racism. We also, hopefully, came to the realization, that we just can’t wait any longer to make the changes needed to address these inequities in everything from education to policing.
On top of all that, we’re waiting for President Trump to publicly articulate that he understands that voters have told him something he probably has not heard before: No more.
That’s a lot of waiting, you guys. But all of that waiting? That means we’re well versed in it and we’re really good at it now.
Time and again over the year, I’ve come back to the word for 2020: Patience. I’ve thought it many times and a handful of times, when I really needed it, I whispered it. Saying that one word, those two syllables, helped me as a kind of rhythmic meditation.
All of that waiting and we here are... really close to What’s Next. We’re close to seeing a team of new leaders right the ship of this country. We are even close—miraculously—to a vaccine.
We just need to hang on. If 2020 was a “lost at sea” movie, these next few months would be the point when the heroes are really tired, but somehow they just keep clinging to the driftwood keeping them afloat in the water. They can see the ship in the distance, but it’s far away. They—we—just need to hang on a little while longer.
The way “hope” helped to buoy us to think about all that was possible in 2008, “patience” can be something of a fuel in our tanks to just keep us moving along. Hope feels like a pipe dream right now, but patience? I’m tired, but I can commit to patience.