Looking back on my life, there have been big thresholds I have crossed, and smaller, daily, less significant thresholds. The longer I live, the more thresholds I have passed, the more decisions I have made that have changed the course of my life with the butterfly effect.
Moving to the city at age 18 years old. Choosing to be a waitress in Colorado. Choosing that temp job at the newspaper where I met my husband. Going to medical school. Marrying the guy I married. The birth of my three children. Choosing this job at this time in my life.
Then there are smaller thresholds: birthdays, holidays, the choice to go on this vacation, or that one. Retirements. Funerals. Anniversaries. Disagreements. The choice to call this friend, or that one. Meeting that patient on a shift. And each new year’s eve, and each new year’s day.
The threshold between 2020 and 2021 feels like a notable one. Significant things happened in 2020. They happened on a big, worldwide scale, and they happened on a deeply personal level for many people.
As I pass through this threshold, I say goodbye to that which is behind me. In some situations with friends and family, I did the best I could. In other situations, I could’ve done better. I wish I would’ve done better. But the whole point of a threshold is that you pass through, you move on, and you take the lessons you have learned with you.
Each new year is a fresh start, and each day is a new start. Actually, with a deep breath, each moment can be a new start. The mistakes I made yesterday do not have to become a permanent part of my life. I can say I’m sorry, or ask for forgiveness, or try to do better next time.
The problems of 2020 are not going to magically disappear. We don’t have all the answers yet. Many people are sick or grieving. Relationships have ended. Jobs are lost and homes are foreclosed. People are hungry. There are people living on the streets, mothers who can’t feed their children, family members struggling with addiction and mental illness and despair.
Still, the threshold of 2021 is full of hope for positive change. Looking back on 2020, there were moments spotlighting the resilience of the human spirit, lessons we can hang on to, and uplifting stories that helped us through when the world seemed to be falling apart. I have been inspired this year by people who stepped up to do the right thing.
So as I pass into the threshold of 2021, I can try to be one of the good folks, more often than not. I can try to be more forgiving, including to myself, and ask for forgiveness more often. I can try to be a better wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, physician. I can try to set a better example for my kids so that they’ll each be one of the good folks when they reach adulthood.
Here’s to the lessons we learned in 2020. I will happily cross into 2021 and raise a glass to the hope, love, friendship, and goodness that I trust we will find there. One day at a time.