Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Embracing change in 2021

| December 31, 2020 1:00 AM

This year, how to react to “Happy New Year” is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Putting 2020 behind us (after a swift kick in its patootie) is undeniable pleasure. Beyond what everyone has been through, our family had late-stage cancer as black icing on this cake of a year. And as soon as that wound down in the fall, the passing of not one, but two mothers before Thanksgiving.

The cancer is gone and hopefully by mid-year, the worst of this pandemic. So why am I not excited about 2021?

Somewhere deep down is a niggling doubt, a disbelief. Like being punch drunk and just waiting for the next hit. As if its coming is certain, not merely possible. After asking a few friends I find this trepidatious feeling is not unique.

Anxiety seems synonymous with the times, making the idea of celebrating a new year seem anticlimactic, perhaps even paradoxical. But it is so often the more difficult moments in life which act as catalysts for better ones ahead.

Nothing can grow which stays the same.

We tend to fear change both temporary and permanent. Change can have negative impacts and it’s natural to resist instability.

But living things need change to grow, to learn and better adapt, to rise. After it’s behind us it’s not unusual to discover the new status quo offers benefits the previous one could not.

A completely different appearance, a transformation, a replacement, to lay aside or abandon for another — these are all definitions of change. In fearing change we fail to see its potential opportunity.

Virus-wise, scientists tell us the Earth benefited from periods of lessened human activity. Climate change somewhat slowed; a few endangered species strengthened.

Harry Potter author Kathleen Rowling began her first book while unemployed. Many independent business owners emerged from job loss. Others begin second or more successful careers through education during times of desperation.

Valuable new relationships, and a new appreciation of existing ones, are often discovered in the tests of hard times.

Sometimes it takes hitting a wall to turn and see a different direction.

When faced with uninvited change, fear and disappointment can be exchanged for positives. Evaluate. Always, always, there is something to learn from change. About ourselves, our choices, performance, or compatibility with life's current path.

We might use 2020 to change direction. Or perhaps in looking ahead, find better tools, individually and as a human civilization, to achieve beneficial ends, be they spiritual or corporeal.

Change is what takes us there. There are many paths to life success as there are individuals and, as long as we remain open to change, other roads to complete the journey.

So here’s a toast to the new road ahead.

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at