For me, 2020 confirmed what I began to learn through my experience navigating my husband’s stage IV cancer diagnosis in 2019: life rarely turns out the way we expect it to.
This realization can feel extraordinarily isolating if you believe you’re the only loser experiencing this disconnect. If you believe everyone else’s lives are going according to their Instagram-perfect plans, leaving you behind in the dust.
But 2020 drew the curtain back on that lie for all of us. Now we all know the truth, because we’ve shared in this experience of having to break up with the vision of what we thought our lives would look like in 2020.
This year, the graduates didn’t get to throw their caps up in the air the way every movie has shown since the beginning of time. For entrepreneurs who finally mustered up the courage to pour their life savings into a new venture, COVID-19 dealt us sucker punch after bruising sucker punch when we were already down. Those of us who planned vacations or weddings or moves to new cities found ourselves pushing back the dates again and again, each time considering afresh whether to just cancel and take back the deposit or pick another date and cross our fingers just one more time.
The pain of the disconnect between the life we thought we were going to have and the one we find ourselves living is profound. It’s hard and it’s real. But observing this distance between hypothesis and lived experience is the primary way knowledge happens, in science and in real life. It turns out the disconnect is a feature, not a bug.
But it can be disorienting nonetheless. In the worst moments, I have lost track of the path back to myself. Like a magic trick, the path only becomes visible when the frame is narrowed smaller and smaller. Just this day. Just this hour. Just this shade of green on the tree outside my window. Just this funny thing said by this person I love. It becomes harder and harder to locate and zoom in on these small patches of connection. It’s hard to remember because it’s so crazy counter-intuitive. The way back to joy paradoxically lies in embracing the present.
In December, we were extraordinarily busy at Tokki—we ran out of lots of stuff and were excited to be part of more gifting moments for all of you than we had dared to hope for. As I was carrying blocks of candle wax up the stairs, I stopped to think about how all of this could change in an instant in entirely unpredictable ways. The uncertainty of it all brought me a quiet moment of wonder. “No matter what happens tomorrow, I have this moment, with this amazing team, with these lovely customers who believe in us.” Embracing the certainty of uncertainty rooted me in the magic of “the now”. To be busy. To be useful. To be connected to the love language of gifting. To be connected to you.
So here’s to the moments of beauty and connection we were able to create out of whatever was in front of us this year. May we honor all the beloved people and experiences we lost by twisting our branches towards the patches of nourishing sunshine, and growing more into who we were meant to be, no matter what.