Eventually, 2021 will be Our Year of Yes

Shonda Rhimes, the creative queen who brought us Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope and Regé-Jean Page, wrote a book called “Year of Yes,” about her efforts to increasingly be open to doing things around people out in the world.

In hearing her talk about her motivation to write the book, which was published in 2015, she -- like many of us -- had previously defaulted to “No,” when asked about doing things outside of a normal routine. (For example, “How about an evening out, chatting with other people?” “No, thank you.”) Instead of that, for one year, she said yes. To a lot.

As Covid-19 cases fall and vaccination rates rise, I have a feeling that the back half of 2021 is going to be our collective Year of Yes.

After 12 months of hearing some kind of version of “No,” or “Not really a great idea,” to everything from attending a funeral to working in an office to attending class in a school to traveling in an airplane, I think we’re going to be saying “Yes!” to things we may not have given a second thought before 2020.

“Mom, can you drive me to school?” YES!

“Can we meet for book club at the local VFW hall?” YES!

“Can you take the kids to a basketball tournament at - insert faraway destination - this weekend?” YES!

If nothing else, the past year has helped us replace “have to” with “get to.” It has shown us all of the people we get to spend time with and all of the places we get to go and all of the activities we get to do.

Around this time last year, when things started getting really scary and Covid cases began to peak in New York City and the school shutdowns got underway and offices asked employees to work from home, a lot of us thought, “Now is the time I get to …” That’s because things were slowing down. We didn’t have many places to go -- if any -- and that meant time at home to finish projects and learn new skills and finally figure out how to BAKE BREAD.

While we’re not close to “totally normal” at this point in the pandemic, the light at the end of this dark, depressing tunnel is widening from a pin point to more of a ball.

In our family, our seventh grader son is in his third week of five-day, in-person school. They’re wearing masks and their desks are such a safe distance apart that, at times, kids have to attend class remotely from a different part of the building. That’s a long way from “home all the time with maybe a little virtual learning” that marked the first months of the pandemic. While we’re still eating at home all the time and running the dishwasher nonstop, we’re no longer scrubbing down our groceries after a large trip every other week.

In March 2020, I remember thinking, “Well, if we’re going to do this, at least it’s a time when the weather is getting warmer.” And now, as we again approach the official start of spring and get ready for the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, there’s a similar feeling of change in the air.

This time, however, it has a dash of pride in having somehow navigated through an entire year filled with uncertainty and stress. And with that change comes many opportunities to say, “YES!”

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