What a trip this has been! And what a trip it still is!
Yes, 2020 is officially over! John Oliver blew it up actually. But that’s the thing with time. It’s just a concept that helps us get together and even the most significant endings don’t change the fact that within our 3 dimensional perception it’ll just continue seamlessly. A virus doesn’t care that it’s not 2020 anymore and given the current situation in the UK, to which I’ll return tomorrow, I gotta say I wish this movie-like year would have crescendoed in a big Hollywood ending come New Years Eve.
Yet, here we are. The world is still on fire. The Vaccine Brigade is on its way. But how this will all play out is uncertain. It looks like it’s going to get worse still before it gets better. And as I am taking some time, as every year, to sit and reflect on the year past and dream about the year ahead, I am certainly experiencing a lot of mixed emotions.
Everyone who knows me knows I’m quite the optimist. I believe in the good in people and I’ve seen more than my fair share of it, especially when shit hit the fan back in March. And it happens all the time: when the going gets tough, when the situation calls for it, many people step up and rise to the challenge. To help, to contribute, to do something meaningful for others – it’s in our nature.
But I’m also an existentialist and I like to have my eyes open to the uncomfortable truths of existence. And certainly there’s another side of human nature that emerges in times of crisis: One that preserves survival, focuses inwards, profits off opportunity and gets pretty creative when its hungry, threatened or otherwise battling for survival.
A truth is that the economic crisis has only just begun and we’ll be facing tough times in 2021 and beyond. This pandemic will have far-reaching consequences and we’ve only just begun to see its impact. But a truth is also that human beings are masters at surviving and that we do grow and learn from adversity if – and that’s perhaps the most important IF, the IF that I’d like to shout from the rooftops – IF we integrate what’s happened, is happening and will still happen. If we get to talk about it, feel the feelings, make sense of our experience, process it, transcend it, weave it into the narrative of our lives in a positive way.
And by positive I don’t mean the Hollywood ending or a motivational speech. I mean in a way that allows us to find meaning in our suffering the suffering of our communities and workplaces and the collective suffering of the world. Not to desire to go back to how things were but to try and embrace this year as an opportunity to learn and grow, regardless of the gravity of the loss.
Life will continue. The world’s still spinning. Climate change hasn’t yet made this planet uninhabitable for us and AI isn’t yet out of control. We sure live in unprecedented times, but I can certainly appreciate how incredible it is to be alive in this day and age. What we’ve seen, witnessed and experienced just in these past 12 months probably took someone just a few hundred years back a lifetime of travelling. We’re so connected that we’ve literally got eyes on what’s happening anywhere in the world. Given modern technology so many of us got to share what’s on their mind. What a time to be alive! For better or for worse.
Now there’s a lot that happened for me personally as I sit and reflect. I’ve been lucky, I feel truly blessed, and I’m immensely grateful that my family has largely been spared of death and major adversity. I’ve worked harder than ever before in my life and I find more meaning in what I’ve accomplished this year than in most other years combined.
Allowing myself to tune into this feeling at least once a day makes a big difference. And I wish to you that you are able to do this as well: to take time to feel grateful for whatever you can find, and to create meaning in whatever suffering you’re experiencing, regardless of whether that’s physical, economical, relational, psychological or philosophical. The existential givens – death, meaninglessness, isolation and freedom – come in many forms. And what I wish for is that you will have, find or create a space to integrate what you’ve experienced this year. And perhaps you can be that space for someone else. It helps to have some psychological training, but as long as you’re committed to listen, to be with someone as they allow themselves to speak their mind and try to make sense of what happened and how to move forward, not to claim to have the answers but to hold space as that someone is trying to find them, that’s enough! That sits at the core of a helping relationship. And anybody can be that for someone else.
Now it wasn’t my intention as I started writing this, but I guess that’s why I’ve been finding so much meaning in and working so hard on our new coach training programme. It gives anybody who’s willing to acquire these skills (listening, holding space, tuning in, meeting others in a non-judgemental way and helping others to move forward by being present and through conversation) the chance to learn from the best coaches out there and at a price point that makes it accessible to as many people as no other programme in the world. Producing more coaches was meaningful in 2019, but now more than ever, as far as I am concerned. If you are or know someone who would like to be a (better) coach, do check it out or pass on the good word.
So this time around I decided to leave it at that and spare you the individual Nuggets. It’s been a heavy year and a heavy Nugget, and anything I’d add now feels like a strange add-on to me. So I’m left wishing you well, from the bottom of my heart, and that you’re in a position to find or offer the kind of integrational place I talked about.
And as always, if any of this resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to a positive-existential 2021! Be well.