Sabbatical Dispatches: 2021!

Impatience, relief, almost glee greet the turn of the calendar. Glad 2020 is over! Whew! Quick, get it behind us. It was a rough year—for the world. Yet the understandable impulse to get “back to normal” denies that the emerging normal will not be a return. 2020 is a year to learn from not run away from is one. 2021 is a chance to build on lessons revealed.

  • Public health is real, needed, undervalued, and underfunded.
  • Health care is staffed by incredible people.
  • Essential workers are compelled more than they are compensated or cared for.
  • Racial injustice is global. It has had 500 years to integrate into all systems and will not be undone with a season of protests and corporate commitment statements.
  • Inequality is real and has consequences. Who gets tests, computers, wi-fi, homecare, mental health, food, and more means life or death in the short- and long-term.
  • Ubiquitous virtual meetings are not the same as in-person and they provide access. Once participation required physical space and travel, now a login is serves.
  • Neighbors, family, friends and places nearby come into sharper focus.
  • Individualism has its limits. None of us is separate, inconsequential, or unaffected. We breathe the same air and contribute to the air that others breathe.
  • The future is always unknown and makes the present precious. Sure, make plans, and hold them lightly.
  • Climate change, migration, hunger, exploitative economy, and war create each other.
  • Nature is medicine. Open spaces support activity, exploration, inspiration, perspective, and (small) social gatherings.
  • Nothing is separate. Everything is connected.

The current moment is the culmination of past moments. We are now in the past of a coming future we will contribute to but not control. I find solace in knowing that I can add my drop to the ocean of history. Let it be a good drop! Therefore, I am committing to the principles that will guide my actions as I respond to the world I encounter.

  • Real conversation—deep listening, kind speaking, truth telling.
  • More time in and support of nature—for relief, release, self-care, perspective, inspiration, and planetary health.
  • Sharpen my ability to see connections—there is always more to see. Let that broader and deeper seeing direct my action.

What did you learn in 2020? What are you taking forward into 2021?

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