2020 In the rear view mirror: what we’ve learned

Right about now, social media platforms like Facebook will be showing you posts you made this time one year ago… in December 2019, when you had absolutely no idea of what 2020 would bring. You don’t know whether you want to laugh or cry seeing photos of yourself happily braai’ing with friends or going to live concerts with thousands of other people, or travelling to exotic destinations. Those were the days. If only you knew. In these pictures and posts you were probably a much happier human being, or at the very least a lot more carefree. But this year has been a global reckoning of sorts and a tragedy for millions of families all over the world. Maybe even your family, too.

Even those of us in the best possible situations—with the finances and support system needed to get through the crisis—are grappling with the depression of isolation and collective trauma of watching humankind stagger against a viral pandemic, as well as the terrible mistakes of our forefathers in building political and economic structures that were both systemically racist and misogynistic and environmentally damaging. It has been a devastating year in so many ways to so many people.

To make matters worse, life goes on, as they say. People continue to get sick with non-COVID diseases, accidents happen, and people suffer. We know. The team here at dk villas has had a few of its own personal crises this year, as have many, many other people. And with 2020 drawing to a close, it compels one to say…

What a SH*TTY year 2020 has been!!

A dangerous and highly contagious virus swept the entire planet, affecting even the most remote reaches of all five continents. A wildfire of equal intensity swept the world, drawing awareness to the deep roots of racism that persist in our society. There were deadly earthquakes near Greece, a freak explosion in Beirut, wildfires in California and Washington, a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, floods in Vietnam and Cambodia, a volcanic eruption in the Philippines, and many, many other disasters and tragedies.

In spite of all this, we would like to propose an alternative narrative to the current doom and gloom. We propose a more hopeful narrative:

2020 Has not brought us sickness. It has brought us awareness of the illnesses and vulnerabilities with which we have been living for decades, if not centuries. 2020 Brought us awareness of our frailty as a species and how we should be protecting ourselves; it showed us how terribly we’ve been polluting the planet when, after a few weeks in lockdown, the skies and rivers cleared; it taught us that our greatest heroes—teachers, healthcare workers, and all the people who keep our grocery store shelves stocked—live amongst us as perfectly ordinary yet essential, brave, (and all-too-often underpaid) people.

2020 Taught us, with every aching heartbeat, the importance of friends and family; it showed us how resilient we are as a society when lead by brave, knowledgeable, and intelligent leaders; and it proved that, if need be, we CAN change. We can change our habits, our lifestyles, and our ways of thinking, even overnight if called for…and it was called for and we rose to the challenge.

We here at dk villas emerge from 2020 feeling utterly broken yet proud of ourselves for having made it through. And instead of sinking into the sadness of it all, we choose to honour a different narrative: one of gratitude and greater awareness. Before 2020, we took for granted the gift of human connection: now we see and feel how very essential it is. Before 2020 people like nurses and teachers were under-appreciated. Now we see them as heroes

All around the world, we see evidence of change and hope. And not only change in the course of the virus humankind is collectively fighting but also within some of the longest established political and economic structures of the world’s most powerful nations. There is so much more hope now than there was in 2019, even though society today feels as thought it’s been dragged through broken glass backwards.

You’ve got to break the bone to reset it so that it can heal properly. And that’s what 2020 has done in so many ways; though for many it must feel impossible to see and appreciate it. With time, we hope, you will.

For us here at dk villas, we see 2020 as an opportunity to learn, to become aware, and to practice gratitude for all the things we had before but didn’t appreciate, like friendship, connection, and good health. Now, with the festive season upon us, we would like to send our love to every one of you reading this and wish you a more hopeful perspective for the coming year. May 2021 see healing in all the ways that you and humankind require healing.

Merry Christmas and a much happier and healthier 2021 to you!