The Great Reflection

About this time every year, I begin gathering my thoughts and impressions, in other words, I start to reflect. Deliberately. How did things go this year? Am I happier now than this time a year ago? Did I leave things better off? Do I owe an apology to anyone? This annual reflection is a no-joke look in the mirror. We all probably started this year filled with hope and a couple of feel good resolutions, right?

For example, I fully anticipated celebrating my 70th birthday calling an Uber to pick me up from some exotic beach location close to the mid-equator, but hey, 2020 happened. So I settled for some socially distanced Korean takeout served by a guy in a mask named Harold. 2020, whoa Nellie.

We have all discovered and experienced the unimaginable, stuff you read in a history book or thru the eyes of a fiction writer. But no, this year was an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was divisive, hurtful, grotesque, funny, even hilarious. If you need a reminder of just how funny, reflect on your toilet paper procurement habits mid-year. Yes, you.

Not surprisingly, I’m already seeing a lot of chatter about vigorously kicking 2020 to the curb. Setting it ablaze like the dumpster fire it is. On more than a few occasions I used language I learned as a salty sailor to describe my disdain for this year. It seemed every single piece of news, gossip and banter were prefaced by first calling 2020 to the woodshed and then grabbing [Insert topic] and blistering its ass.

I’ve been thinking (reflecting ) about it and I have decided to act as the public defender for 2020, pro bono. So, if it pleases the court…

The evidence will show 2020 was and is, as an inanimate object, incapable of harm, intentional or accidental. Did bad things happen? Undisputedly. Did bad things happen in 2019, ‘18, ‘17, et al? I would remind you of the fear and gloom as we approached the year 2,000. I actually served on a Y2K committee to help plan for the greatest cataclysm to modern society – the crash of computers and the loss of d-d-d-data!! I suspect Bill Gates is still chuckling over that cluster-gaggle. I mean, a language based on 0’s & 1’s, come on.

Before we blame whatever bad occurred this past year on this past year, consider who 2020 was dragging along, kicking, screaming, eye-poking and sharp elbowing. We probably could/should have behaved better. For example, the next time Bio-Tech thinks they need to create a humanity killing bug in some lab, maybe they will just say, “Nah, let’s just go to happy hour.”

As my skillet bottom continues to become better seasoned, I hope and long for wisdom and discernment. That’s what reflection is about, for me anyway. So 2021, you better pay attention to what we did to your little brother 2020, and don’t make me come back there.

Place and Moment

Having morning coffee is certainly nothing new for me. Like millions, it is a daily right of passage. It’s during this ritual I reset my thinking, reflect on the goodness and promise of the new day. Rarely do I look back. I’m not headed that way. Nothing particularly earth-shaking in my daily practice.

This morning, the basic ritual was the same but surprisingly very different. I took my morning coffee and reset my day from a rooftop veranda overlooking centuries old San Miguel de Allende. 

I immediately realized I had lost control over my ritual. I spent no time thinking about the day ahead or reflecting. I was too overcome with the presence of place and the specific moment.

The majority of us live, work and play within a very predictable and comfortable cocoon — places we call home. We get wrapped up in our comfortable and satisfying rituals.

Sadly, we don’t allow our gaze to extend beyond our wonderfully safe cocoons we all take such refuge in. Not thinking much about the rest of the world, let alone what’s happening the next street over. Perhaps our rituals consume more than nourish.

So this morning I was struck by an amazing place and specific moment in a profound way. As San Miguel woke up, I wondered how many of them were doing exactly the same ritual I (we) do? Preparing to seize the day, already looking forward to the end of the day and back to the cocoon.

I intend to hold on to that initial spark I encountered this morning. That overwhelming presence of place and specific moment — nothing more. Intentionally lose control of your rituals. Achieve that first and enjoy the peace that follows.