A year after the world stopped, I find inspiration again.

In the most unusual of places

2021 by Elizabeth Schap

Today is the day I reflect back on the year that was 2020, after living two full months in the New Year—and come upon the other year mark, the start of the end. Although, honestly, is there anything really new about it, other than the last digit in a sequence of 4 numbers?

Some of us are still wearing masks and washing hands and social distancing. The country is still torn down the middle in votes and beliefs and actions and reactions. People are still losing their jobs and homes and family members. The world still seems like a landfill fire of epic proportions.

It even seemed old-fashioned to bother with future plans and goals, since everything is on a long endless pause of “When COVID is over…”

In fact, it seems cheesy and quaint to even want to write a 2020 year of reflection. Let’s face it, they all go one of two ways. You’re either 

-Reflecting on how the world needs to change before we end it all with our stupidity and hatred, or…

-Writing uplifting prose about how this year is going to be different because we will rise out of the ashes to greet a new era where lion and hyena come together…

Sorry, got a little Lion King there.

But honestly, that’s where all these seem to end up, don’t they?

Still, I feel like writing anything else without acknowledging that I made it through 2020 would be a scam because how can I act like nothing happened? After all, it was this time in 2020 when the world stopped.

I mean, in my personal life, nothing happened. Teaching just proved that it hasn’t even reached the limits of how hard it can become before it swallows an entire country’s worth of educators. (Or how much a country can vilify those who choose the profession.) Attempting to perform my full-time job and keep my physical, emotional and mental health intact overran any and all other goals.

I set out in 2020 to do more work with this website, to make a run at a real career in creative pursuits outside of education and writing. Tired of saying that next year will be the year, I decided that 2020 WOULD be it. 

It was for so many others. Problem-solving and creativity gave shape to new businesses and dreams. I thought I would be one of them, with no travel or outings to get in the way. But by the autumn of 2020, it appeared that this year was going to be a wash, as I left this website silent once the crush of my “real job” got the better of me. So much for this year. 

As the fall turned toward winter, I figured it might be time to stop saying “There’s always next year.” Enough was enough, time to call it quits.

And yet…

Out in the often snowy and always chilly land of wings and weck, something completely magical was happening. A long Billeved-in dream was unexpectedly taking shape. The Buffalo Bills were 13 and 3. They were going to the playoffs as division champions, and they were magnificent.

One day I will tell you the tale of how a young 8-year-old girl, born and raised in Baltimore, who couldn’t find Buffalo on a map, became one of the biggest Bills fans to ever live. Today, it is just enough to know that 31 years later she experienced the greatest happiness and joy in a year when there was so little. The Buffalo Bills saved my 2020 and my dreams.

Because they reminded me that you simply can’t give up—ever.

Not when you are in your darkest moments and the outsiders remind you of your past failures. Not when you have to face tasks without your cheering section. Despite the fact that your peers or the experts bet against you, regardless of the setbacks or the false starts.

And even when you fall short once again. You can’t ever give up because, come hell or 2020, you don’t know what the turn of the next calendar will bring.

I waited until the anniversary of the world stopping came to my doorstep to publish this because there really aren’t any real rules anymore. While I have gotten vaccinated and returned to my full-time job in person, I have made no plans that span longer than a day or two. It’s not out of fear or sadness that I don’t plan, it’s just easier to simply see what each day might bring and plan in the moment.

I think that’s all I can expect to hope for this year—calendar, school or otherwise. Live in the moment and see where it takes me. It’s not like I really had any more control over what happened in the beforetimes. I was just fooled into thinking I did.

Here’s to the next 365 and beyond, whatever each moment may bring.

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