“Auld Lang Syne” is a Scots-language poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The poem’s Scots title may be translated into standard English as “old long since” or, less literally, “long long ago”, “days gone by”, or “old times”. Consequently, “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for the sake of old times”. Thank you, Wikipedia.
After the tire fire that was 2020, it is hard not to yearn for the sake of old times; of 2018, or 2019. Anything but 2020, with the passing of a beloved sports icon and his daughter, the passing of a game show celebrity, a man who changed the way guitars were played. Then there was the BLM movement that was a needed wake-up call that was heard around the world. Of course, the main course was the Pandemic, the support or disdain of elected officials and their handling of the course of nature. Then there are those divided by “research” on social media. That’s a whole separate story. Did I forget the murder hornets? Seriously 2020, what the hell?
Now, I am going to state that I am not much for the New Years’ Eve celebrations. Maybe it stems from long ago being stood up on NYE (for any millennials reading this, that is the physical manifestation of “ghosting” in your texting world), or staying home in 1999 because I drank a case of beer waiting to see the fallout at midnight of Y2K (millennials, that’s when the world’s computers were to stop functioning and we were to revert back to the dark ages, hahaha). NYE really has never been my thing. But as I sat on the couch at 8:00 pm, my daughters blew noisemakers and we had a mini countdown before their bedtime, it wasn’t until my wife played Auld Lang Syne by The Barenaked Ladies that the magnitude of 2020 hit me. I was relieved and sad all at the same time. I realized the events we witness, lived through, will live through, and the sacrifices we made. It also dawned on me the amount of change that I (we) had to endure this past year.
There was a profound Twitter post that the author laid out his predictions that will likely emerge before 2030 and it really resonated with me. Riding the coattails of that brilliant post, here are some of the things that I reflected on…
- Higher quality of life – the events of 2020 have forced our entire society to slow down. I was sent home on March 12, 2020, and for the first week, it was glorious. The second and third were pretty spectacular, but for those that know me, I enjoyed going into work and the social interactions. By week four, the house felt the size of a garden shed, and the walls were closing in. But today, I have slowed my pace and really do not want that to change as our governments roll out vaccinations with a hopeful return to normal. I discovered the love of cooking and a nightly meal with my family and realized that food that is warm is much better than eating it cold. I have come accustomed to the once-weekly trip to the grocery store and appreciate the dog-eared cookbooks in my house. Even the random ramblings of my kids as I drive them to and from school have become precious moments. I have found myself smiling at the little things more often. Thank you 2020 for slowing me down.
- My Hobbies – yep, my workout sure took a different direction this year. However, I look back on this as a welcome change. I do regret not stocking my war chest of gym goods more responsibly in the past but I made due. I had a TRX, various kettlebells, bands, and a 45 lb bar (someday I will have plates for the said bar) but I walked nearly three times a week and was on my bike more this year than in the last 8 years combined. I cherished every day I was able to stand in the water and toss a fly line this year. And throughout all of this, I still managed 257 active days out of a planned 233 (109%). This time away from the physical gym has allowed me to be more creative, open my mind, and honestly challenge the way I defined solutions for myself and athletes. Thank you 2020.
- Career – As most of you will know, 2020 was the year I was shown the door, I was laid off. To say it was hard would be an understatement. But thanks to a supportive family, some professional help, and supportive friends, I am coping with it… still. Things happen for a reason, and at first seem unfair, cruel, and embarrassing. But it has taken some time to reflect on where I have come to at the end of 2020. I have had the time to reflect on what truly mattered to me. The rise of remote will lead to people re-prioritizing what is important to them and lead them to organize work around life will be the prioritized. People realizing they are more than their job will lead to a deeper purpose in other areas. A recognition that we no longer have to sacrifice work for a living, but we can organize work around our lives. I have been busy since the middle of August defining this at depth truly reinventing myself as a sports physiologist and educator.
- My “legacy”- I miss my coworkers and I miss my athletes, more than anyone could know. I would feel the same pride watching my athletes and coaches succeed that I do watch my children grow and learn. But it took time away to discover what I want to be known for in my next chapter. I want to be known as a great practitioner who can deliver what I promise consistently. I want to be known as a facilitator and educator who trains others on how to maximize effectiveness and translate knowledge. I want my time to be replaced as the main KPI for judging my performance rather than by productivity and output. That means becoming an essentialist and removing the need to pad an 8 hour day, replaced by clear tasks and responsibilities that I find deep connection and meaning. It means doing what needs to be done rather than wasting time on tasks trying to look busy.
So as we bode farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, and we shook our fist at 2020, I recognized it as bidding farewell or ending to other occasions. Coming out the other end of this “UNPRECEDENTED EVENT” none of us are the same person, probably more so than any other year, we have endured. I would like to think that as a whole, a majority of us used 2020 positively. As he poem’s Scots title may be translated into standard English as “old long since” or, less literally, “long long ago”, “days have gone by”, or “old times”, I do not wish the old times; well aside from no COVID-19, but I look at 2021 with a little more optimism, wisdom, and hope. Here is to 2020, that relationship that was so toxic that it showed us, we deserve better than 2020 and it’s bull shit. I hope the best for all of you in 2021.