Last year I was so confident and naive. I had returned from my travels and was ready to take the world for my own. Life is funny in that way. It tends to build us up only to crack our foundation.
We all know what happened in 2020 so there is no use rehashing. We lost a lot. Jobs, businesses, expectations, relationships, time, and loved ones. Each of us has a singular story through the pandemic yet we are all holding the ashes of something.
This New Year reminds me of one I spent in South Africa. A country that is still recovering from their own catastrophe: Apartheid. This New Year particularly stands out because I was lucky enough to spend the holiday on the beach with people that had learned to build with ash. Most of them were gazing at the ocean for the first time. No words were needed to celebrate their victory.
They started with nothing. Everything they had ever known was taken and burned yet they somehow rebuilt a joyous life within their new freedom.
The clock struck midnight as a father played with his sons wearing tearful eyes. It is an image I will never forget.
It’s hard to build with ash. There isn’t a lot of structure there. Sure, we could make a nice heap but it would be a far cry from the pillars and beams that supported our old lives. Yet it’s possible. Life has always survived even the hottest of fires.
To truly rebuild, though, we must let go of what we have lost. It is impossible to recreate what we lost. We need something new. We need something different. We need a combination of the old and new.
As 2021 approaches, we are sitting at the inflection point. We are right in the middle of the journey from ash to beach. It is a moment of sorrow but also of opportunity. It’s a chance to rebuild with fresh priorities, ideas, and intentions. It’s a chance to think deeply about the next phase of your life and build with that clarity of mind. It’s time to build a life with the knowledge of the past but the novelty of the future.
I now find myself with a lot of questions. Especially with the lingering uncertainties of a resurgent pandemic. But I’m not afraid. The human spirit has rebuilt from worse.
The past is gone; time to find my beach.