Why I won’t be offering any silver lining reflections on the year 2020.

Anais Gschwind
3 min readNov 18, 2020

We are approaching the end of the year and that means one thing for sure: the personal yearly wrap up. I am a long-term indulger in the end of year wrap up.

It’s when everyone starts retrospectively making sense of all the shitty things that happened this year. Turning poop into flowers. Twisting sadness into silver linings. Casting light in otherwise very dark forgotten corners.

It makes us feel in control of our lives and the things that happen in them. It creates the illusion that we sit in the driver’s seat of our world.

It’s going to take some large leaps for some to find a positive spin this year but no doubt the onslaught is approaching, I can feel it in the air.

We are drawn to it like moths to a flame. We so want to make the bad things feel good. We want there to be some higher reason for our mundane human suffering.

These little reflections sneak into conversations, become the basis of social media posts, inform our feelings as we close out a year that’s been weird to say the least.

Isn’t it a strange thing, the coping mechanisms we employ to make nonsensical things seem acceptable? Perhaps its the only way to get through life. It was worked for me for a large portion of mine.

However, this year I feel a deep resistance in my gut to put things in perspective. I feel drawn to calling this year what it is: a crappy year. A series of unfortunate events that have spun many people’s lives into chaos.

And I can hear you already, Ah yes but lots of good things have happened!

We got to take a break!

It’s not all bad!

You’ve got to look on the bright side!

We got to spend more time with the family and learn to bake bread and buy chickens!

Now we know what really matters!

And these are the expected refrains of those deep in the denial of the yearly wrap up. I don’t blame you for wanting to be there, it is a comfortable refuge, safe from the raging shit show that was and is the year 2020.

But I’m not just talking about your life, or my life (which you could also argue was reasonably ‘good’). I’m talking about the collective human experience of 2020. It has not been good.

I’m not even mad about it (okay, maybe a little).

You may call me cynical. And you may be right.

But I think it is something more like a willingness to see things for what they are rather than what I want them to be. This year I am finding comfort in remaining wide-eyed and not fading into comfortable clichés.

I’m just not sure that everything is for the best.

I am not convinced everything happens for a reason.

Can you tell me exactly what you mean when you say, it is what it is…?

Does it really… all work out in the end?

Or do we just hide in these little phrases to insulate ourselves from the harsh truth that sometimes things are not good. And they are not good for no good reason other than the reality of life.

Is acceptance of the vastness of having no greater order, no master plan too much to bear?

Would our lives be different if we could resist the urge to put a positive spin on everything? Could we be happier if we just left things as they are without inventing stories about them?

Would we see more clearly? Could we connect with an understanding of the world beyond just our own experience?

If you saw 2020 for what it is, what do you see?