Could any of us have predicted what 2020 would have in store?
Sipping a hot white mocha and watching the sun rise over the city skyline from a Hilton Hotel room in Nagoya, Japan, I can confidently say that the possibility of a world-changing pandemic was far from my mind on January 1st, 2020.
Had I taken a glance at one of the newspapers sold in the convenience store down the street, perhaps I might have found a small, ‘by-the-by’ piece regarding a mysterious illness that had been discovered somewhere in the neighbouring country of China printed somewhere towards the centre, far from the front page. Had I been scrolling through social media, maybe I would have seen a brief tweet about a wet market somewhere in Wuhan. Racking my brain, I can faintly remember seeing coverage of what would soon become COVID-19 in an online article at some point around New Year’s Eve, yet I admit that I lacked the comprehension and good sense to realise what lay in store.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the havoc it has wrecked across the world leaves me in stunned awe every time I think about it. Here in Tokyo life has very much remained as normal and infection numbers have stayed relatively low (whether through a lack of cases or a lack of testing, I can’t say), yet in the country I left behind just two years ago, more than 40,000 people have already died. Around the world, over 10 million people have contracted the disease; amongst those who have escaped it this long, simple measures such as mask-wearing and staying indoors have become the subject of debates as violent and vicious as any political campaign.
As the madness continues, I expect that I am just one of millions taking the time to examine their life’s direction and follow the steps required for significant change. It feels inconsiderate and privileged to say that the pandemic has brought an opportunity for improvement; instead, I consider COVID-19 to be a traumatic catalyst that has shown us all that our previous lifestyles were unsustainable and greatly in need of improvement. Certainly, it has shown to me that life is far too short and that the future is far too uncertain to allow avoidable and unnecessary issues to claim my time. Inspired by those who have had everything stripped from them by such a cruel twist of fate, I have made the decision to change my career, consider a new future and (with this post) start a blog.
There are a great many unknowns ahead of us all, and I take no shame in admitting that I have spent several nights this year wide-awake and worrying about the future. Of course, no amount of panic or fretting has ever helped or changed a situation; all I can do is work hard and hope that my efforts will be fruitful in some (yet undetermined) way.