What a year it has been. 2020 will go down in history books as one of global suffering. Climate change ravaged the world, from fires in the American West, the Amazon rainforest and Australia, to an increase in floods and hurricanes in the Gulf of the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, to the accelerated melting of glaciers and icecaps. Add to that, the suffering of a new war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a global pandemic, and an economic recession. On top of all this global suffering is the agony of the deaths of eminent individuals such as Kobe Bryant, John Lewis, Chadwick Boseman and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Things can, and probably already have, become very overwhelming for anyone paying even a minimal amount of attention to their surroundings.
Of course, every year presents its own challenges, but being under quarantine where everything is closed for several months, is an especially challenging period for most people. On top of everything else, it has been an election year in the United States that had global ramifications. With a grueling campaign and an even more arduous counting of the votes, this year has most likely felt like a long, difficult slog through the grime and malaise of mental and emotional fatigue. And for the Coptic community, allegations of sexual assault among members of the clergy adds a visceral cut.
Where does one go from here? How does one find peace among so much turbulence? What can one do to make it easier for others and ourselves to find relative calm and comfort when it feels like everything we have ever known has been changing at such a rapid pace?
I can feel myself losing sight of my path, losing sight of the route I should be on, losing sight of why it is I exist. Grasping for the ledge as I fall off my road, I try to hang on to a scintilla of what I used to know. Am I migrating vertically or horizontally? Am I moving in a direction towards better self-knowledge, or in one that makes me a stranger to myself? Moving on perpendicular planes gradually becomes dizzying. Perplexing.
Deep trenches and high cliffside drops can make for a terrifying minefield. Especially when the map has faded into an opaque gloss, deeming it inoperative. Where do I look? Where do I go? What do I do?
While is it is difficult for an empathizing individual to keep grasp of a sense of peace and hope, it is useful to keep things in perspective. What do you still have? Hopefully, your health. Hopefully, the love of other people. Definitely, the love of God. The world has gone through worse catastrophes in the past. The Earth still revolves around the sun. How will you take advantage of tomorrow? How will you ease someone’s suffering? How will you show gratitude? How will you do your part to decelerate the rate of angst? Of climate change? Of the virus spreading? Of anxiety?
Hope can be found in the bleakest of situations. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve heard all of the clichés. But do you actually believe that? Do you hold onto a notion of hope or to actual hope itself? Do you really believe that you can make a difference?
Looking upwards, it finally hits me like a ray of light. In fact, it is a flood of light. A flood of light that washes away Noah’s flood; the curse that wiped out humanity. That deluge that was washed away by a flood of light in the form of a rainbow. A flood of light that illuminates what I thought were deep trenches but were in fact a new opportunity. A high cliffside drops into an alternative path. I am no longer hopelessly migrating on an unknown route of perpendicular planes. I am no longer sinking into a sea of distractions. I am no longer hanging onto the ledges of what I used to know. I can see that the direction I am moving in is not one where I lack agency, but one where I am in control. Maybe, this maelstrom is where I find peace.
Perhaps, it is a reminder that the eye of the hurricane is the calmest.
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Sam Fouad is a communications professional, political analyst and journalist. He can be followed @_saf155.