Do you remember the last time you went to the pub? You know, before COVID?
I can picture it perfectly. The condensation dripped slowly down my, slightly too full, pint. It was eerily quiet. We sat by the fire. It was Sunday the 15th of March 6:15 pm. A school night, no less.
I used to love going to the pub on a Sunday evening; it felt so rebellious; it felt like we were stretching the weekend out as far as possible. Making the most of every second. Not moping come 4 pm. But letting time soak into all the corners of the weekend, filling it to the brim with life.
That Sunday, sitting with friends, we joked about how this might be the last pint. We actually toasted and said, ‘this could be it’.
And now it’s been a whole year.
It’s been an entire year since the last time we did this, or the last time we did that. The nostalgia is strong this month as reflections of a year of the pandemic are shared. Each week feels like an unwanted milestone. A year since the toilet paper ran out! A year since lockdown! A year since I hugged you. A year. A year. A year.
What’s your last memory from The Before? What day can you see with clarity? Or can’t you? Has time twisted and distorted what life ‘used to be like’? Can you remember? Do you want to remember?
I think this is why it’s so important to notice our lives, to document it. To say out loud when something is good or special or important. To let our stories be told. I’m glad I’ve got my record of the pandemic year.
Moments do often gain significance with retrospect; however, we can pause our life at any moment and say, ‘yep this right now, this is cool’. We don’t have to dwell on past memories for meaning, we can create this as we move forward. Highlighting significant events as we experience them. We can say out loud that we want to freeze-frame a memory. We can write about it. Save it. The good and the bad.
There could be a last time for all of it. Which feels a little morbid, but it could be. So we should notice it.
What a Difference A Year Makes
So much can happen in a year, so much can change. Pandemic or no pandemic, a year is a life-changing amount of time.
In January the year sprawls out ahead of us, infinite with its possibility and excitement. By March we start to worry about making plans and if we’re on target for our goals. Summer rolls around and we enjoy ourselves. Then somehow, we’ve never shaken off the September ‘back to school’ feeling and we try to cram as much as we can into those wintery months, before the calendar ticks over again.
Yet, this last year has really highlighted to me that change really is the only constant. It’s the only thing we are guaranteed.
Last year, I’m not sure I could have ever imagined what my life would look like now. I’m not sure any of us could.
2020 was and wasn’t part of the plan. What about you? I’m not sure many people’s lives have gone to plan over the last few months – both good and bad. What have you learnt? How have you changed? What can you pull from this year and weave into a beautiful list of achievements or moments? What memories do you want to save from the year that wasn’t or was? What are you tired from? The good and the bad?
One thing I know for sure, when I look back on this year, I’ve come so far. We all have. The world has changed, and we’ve adapted and grown and challenged ourselves, and we’re still here. We survived.
Sometimes these changes can’t be seen by others. They are so incremental. It might even take a while for us to see them. To others, it will look like we’re still standing exactly where we started, but in a few years’ time we’ll be unrecognisable and that’s what counts.
The Only Constant Is Change
A very small part of me doesn’t want lockdown to end. I know this is only because my resilience has been depleted. I know this is only because my comfort zone has shrunk to the size of my world. I know this is because the walls I spent years dismantling have slowly built back up. I know it’s only because I’m forgetting what life really is. What it’s really about.
I know that really; I want to live a big life again. I know I want to push the boundaries of what seems possible and flip over to a blank page.
Although things have been hard recently, in that way that’s difficult to put your finger on, these can still be days we’ll look back on. We’re not getting any time back. There isn’t anything extra we’re getting to make up for the pandemic year. This is it. These are the good old days. Both bad and good. These are the days we’ll look back on and say, do you remember when?
The more we reflect and document our experiences, the more we learn. We can see our patterns of behaviour; we can celebrate our successes and we can learn from our mistakes. We can be grateful and appreciate the details of our lives because this is it.
There Will Be More Good Days
2020 has taught me the biggest lesson of all. This is the long game. No more quick wins. A life of adventure is what I want, not just a day. A life of wonderful memories and stories, not just a day. And that sort of thinking is exhausting, but it’s the sort of exhausting that leaves you full not empty. It leaves you tired and happy. That seems like the best way to end a day, a year, a life.
The last good day was today. The next good day will be tomorrow. There will be more good days. There will always be more good days.
Stories From A Backpack is a place that celebrates the process of documenting our life through stories. You don’t have to see yourself as a writer to want to document your life. You can start to save your memories and share your story today.
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