Ushering in the New Year is often a time for reflection. How do we look back on the long mush that was 2021?
From the here and now, it feels difficult to pick out lessons learned, regrets or hiccups, and form them into the usual ragged list of New Year resolutions. Where do you start? Only with the vague notion that 2022 will surely be better, no matter what one puts on the list.
When we look back, we chalk up our years and time by the stuff that we did or what we experienced. What did we experience in 2021? Most of us did very little, I think, in comparison to what we might consider normal.
I, for one, found small delight in going to the hairdresser and chatting with the wifies in the local delicatessen. We all experienced the tantalising prospect of another lockdown, which didn’t happen, yet still might.
Storm Arwen was a nightmare within a nightmare
It is hard to pick out the threads of what exactly occurred outside of “another pandemic year”. One thing that left a mark on me and most of us was Storm Arwen. I wondered if that would have been quite the same malarkey if we’d all managed to go about our usual business, or on holidays, or to parties.
However, I then went to Banff and Huntly with my Dad at Christmas and I saw the scars left on the landscape of the shire. The memory of this storm will last a long time. It’s everywhere, in places which are now, to the habit of the eye, inexplicably changed and forever unusual, where once they were home.
Work brought me to Bristol, another wonderful city, the week after Storm Arwen. Carving out a little tourist time around lunch, my colleague and I visited the cathedral – a huge building that has stood in some form since the 12th century.
A tour guide asked us where we were from and we said Scotland. She asked how everyone was after the “awful storm”. I told her I was from Aberdeen and that thousands of people nearby still had no power. I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt so homesick in my life.
Stepping quietly into 2022
For New Year’s Eve, we visited friends near Lumsden. Like ours, their plans had fallen through as intended guests either tested positive or became symptomatic with Covid.
It is easy to forget how truly dark it is at night in Aberdeenshire, away from the city and streetlights. The stars were bright through the clouds, the overcast sky gently illuminated by fireworks flashing in unseen locations, as we silently passed into 2022.
On New Year’s Day, after some very needed recovery, we drove to Dufftown. We stopped at an extremely windy Auchindoun Castle, then went on to Tomintoul and back toward Aberdeen through beautiful Strathdon.
Parked at The Lecht car park, we put our hands on the meagre patches of snow, on what was for some the hottest New Year’s Day on record, gazing across historic Banffshire, thinking about what the future holds.
We’ve discovered resilience we didn’t know we had
One thing I hope for 2022 is that we can all just catch a break. It may seem bizarre to some that, in an 18-month period where many of us were fully, or partially, furloughed, no one is truly rested.
But furlough is far from a holiday. It is a gluey, intangible, not-a-break. A stasis which it is hard to return from. The winter thus far has felt somewhat the same, lacking the usual sense of renewal that comes with the bells; to-do lists uncleared as Omicron skewed priorities.
I was grateful to discover patience and resilience that I previously was not sure I had
Personally, the pandemic presented a lot to learn from, particularly during the period between March 2020 and 2021. Most of all, I was grateful for being able to work on the ability to lean back and take stock of my job and role; to discover patience and resilience that I previously was not sure I had.
The fact that I can look back on the year of 2020 and draw positives assures me that I will be able to eventually do the same to 2021 – a solace at a time of uncertainties.
Let’s get back to important, simple things
As for those aforementioned resolutions, I am unsure what to choose, other than the practical things that stick there in near permanence. Learning to drive. Sorting out my electric meter – a saga for another column. Matching my unpaired socks, or perhaps moving to a new flat.
Dealing with a service I use which inexplicably has my second name recorded as FARGUHAR. A lifetime of spelling F-A-R-Q-U-H-A-R is supposed to prevent these things. I grumble; I even have to do that for folk in the north-east.
And then the others. The big stuff that some call simple. Don’t work too much. Get decent rest. Love those around you and make time for them. Don’t worry so much and take proper breaks. Work will still be there when you get back.
Things that perhaps have been unlearned for many as we struggled and strived to get our lives back to normal in 2021, pandemic still swirling around us. I’m positive that, somewhere in 2022, we’ll be able to get back to those simple, important things.
Happy New Year.
Colin Farquhar is head of cinema operations for Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen