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  • Chris Hersh

2020 - The Year of Growth

The year is coming to the point where I am seeing Halloween candy on the shelves at the stores. This is typically the point in the year where we enter the Holidays - a fun time - Halloween, then we get ready for Thanksgiving and before Thanksgiving even hits - we are starting to think of Christmas and before we have cleaned up the remnants of the Christmas parties - we are celebrating New Years and it is going to be 2021.

This year has been difficult in so many ways. There are the ways we've all shared - being involved in this pandemic that I really don't know how its going to end - or become just part of our life. So many questions - so few answers. It is easy to look at it and lose a little bit of hope. Hope has always been a significant part of my personality. Which will be evident in this post.

I know so many people are struggling this year - but I am going to focus on my year since that is what I am most familiar with and what I have based much of my thoughts on. I hope that some of what I say can maybe spark a little hope in anyone who happens upon this. I do not claim to be much of a writer, so its very possible my writing will be convoluted and/or random in its presentation, but hopefully once read, it will make some sense and the point will be readily apparent.

I entered this year with "it all." I had a job. I own my home. I spent New Years with people that I love. My family is for the most part nearby.

Soon after New Years some things in some ways fell apart. The woman I was dating and I had difficulties which turned into a break up.

In late February I was on a bike ride to Key West and she was back home in Colorado. At the time I was having difficulties at work, and was trying to put out fires via emails sent on stops during my ride. I actually broke down on the ride as the stress and exhaustion seemed to get the best of me. I texted her and did my best not to sit on the side of the road crying into the phone as the emotions just seemed to erupt to the surface. I really thought I was in a spot where I may lose my job. I was exhausted as I had ridden all day after not sleeping for 24 hours spent traveling down to Miami. After the longest day ever spent on a bike, I finally made it to my hotel and fell asleep. The next day we broke up.

At the time, I really do not know what was going through my head. I knew that I had to continue my bike ride to Key West, so over the next 2 days I pedaled with all the frustration being used to spin those pedals as fast as I could go. What had originally been planned as a relaxing escape was now a mission to make it to the end, to Key West, this bike trip I'd dreamed of for years.

I did make it, and while it was not the trip that I had planned, I learned something. I learned that I could do what I put my mind to even under stressful conditions - and that even though things weren't like I had planned or hoped, I could find the way to push ahead. I met some wonderful people that put a smile on my face when I needed it more than they will ever know, and I will never forget them.

It was a strange feeling coming back home. Usually after a trip, there is excitement to see those that were missed. When I came back home this time however, the person I had spent most of my time with before leaving no longer was a part of my life - it makes home feel really strange, and not really like home. I left this place with this person that I loved and still had that feeling of being excited to see them, but now I came back and that love was gone in some way, and I couldn't see them, or wasn't supposed to, or whatever words there are for how you don't see the person. Such a strange, empty feeling. Fittingly it was around 2 am when I arrived in my town, the dark empty streets suited the emptiness I felt at being home.

About a month later, the pandemic was in full swing and we were in lock down. Entire teams at work were being let go, people on my team were laid off. The stress of am I going to keep my job was back in full swing. Getting emails from people saying how much they'll miss being a part of our company were a usual sighting in my inbox. I was incredibly lucky in that I was able to work, and I was able to work from home - but the feeling of loneliness was amplified. Not only was it lonely - but this was a different kind of lonely as there was no option of going out to some place and meeting friends, or new people. It was even scary to see family - particularly parents as I didn't want to risk being an asymptomatic carrier of this mysterious virus. No one knew exactly who had it, what it did, how it spread, how easily it spread. So many questions, so few answers.

Eventually, these feelings of loneliness become a sort of normal. I found ways to cheer myself up as best I could. I did what all people were doing all over the world - I made the best of a horrible situation.

It is now September. I am thinking back on the difficulties of this year. I see so many people saying they cannot wait for 2020 to be over. That is so incredibly sad to me. Time is such a valuable thing that we cannot get back. Wishing time away has to be the most tragic thing we can do in life! There has to be a way that this year, the year being this man made construct of time, but this time we are living in, I have to make 2020 the best year I've had, or at least a very good one that I am excited to continue living and thriving in.

When we have a good year, or we have anything happen which is good - we thoroughly enjoy it. We all like good - its good! But when things are difficult or painful - it hurts - and that is typically considered a negative emotion. But what do we learn - how do we progress through good times? I remember good times, I fondly remember many good times. But even more than good times, I remember hard, painful times. They make an impact. We learn and we grow through pain, through trials, through failures. 2020 has proven to be a wonderful teacher.

The ways that I spent my time have been completely different than they have been in past years. I haven't gone to live music shows. I haven't gone to bars, or restaurants, or venues. Instead I have read, I have taken courses, I have spent hours, way too many if I'm being honest, learning about who I am, and why I do the things I do. I can truly say that I know myself in ways that I never had before, and never would have had this year not been as life altering as its been.

I have connected with entirely new people in entirely new ways. Now that I work from home, I get up and spend extra time working, I've established myself as a somewhat valuable resource there, and in many ways very valuable. I no longer worry about losing my job barring some catastrophe (be kind 2020!!!).

I have always had hope, I have always had optimism as significant parts of my personality. Prior to this year, some of that hope and optimism was not necessarily on a solid foundation, but I have spent a lot of time really strengthening that foundation.

So the ultimate point I am trying to make is that pain is an emotion just like happiness. It is life - and all these things that happen to us are wonderful. It is easy to enjoy the positive emotions - but if we are able to find a way to harness the pain in a constructive way - that is where we will find our true growth as a person. Through the hard times, we can find ways to rise above, we can find creativity in ourselves that we may not have spent time cultivating. We can dig into ourselves and find strength that we never knew existed.

I will end this by saying - even with all of this - I truly hope 2021 is a very, very happy year. For all of us. If you read this, I hope it was beneficial in some way.

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