We can’t avoid the past but we can look to the future with hope

The past week is easily my favourite time of the whole year. I’m writing this before I’ve had the chance to live it yet, but if it turns out as planned, I will have spent it as I do every year; knee deep in Quality Street and rarely out of my pyjamas. It’s the one time when I feel no guilt in switching off and just ‘being’.

s a working mum of two young children it sometimes feels impossible to ever just sit down, without self-judgement or distraction. But with most of the rest of the world as I know it on pause, there are no work emails to answer, there is nowhere else I need to be, and nothing else I need to be doing.

All of which tends to mean that, in between the marathon leftover-eating and festive TV-watching, I allow myself, finally, to think back on the year that’s just been; the good, the bad, the surprising and the devastating. The rest of the time, like everyone else, I’m too busy living each moment in anticipation of the next.

We always seem to be too busy getting to places, both literally and figuratively, to look around and see where we are. It’s only when we suddenly notice our children growing half a foot overnight that we think to savour the sweetness of their youth.

It’s only when a milestone has been reached at work that we stop to think about whether we enjoyed the process along the way. So much of life is lost in the busyness of living it.

But in every second of every day of the year, there’s a happiness, a sadness, a frustration, an excitement… we simply don’t often take the time to register it.

That said, there’s been an awful lot of the last two years that have had a bit of the ‘Christmas week’ feel to it. With the world at times almost completely locked down during the pandemic, we’ve had no choice but to slow things down, take in the world as it is around us, and to value the things that matter most — family, friends, health.

For all the horror of Covid, and there’s been plenty of that, there are elements I am deeply grateful for.

It’s those little pockets of light in the darkness, the gratitude, the love, the savouring of the moment, that I hope to take forward into this New Year, whatever it may bring.

If we dare to dream, and I’m not sure that I do, that this could be the year where we see the light at the end of the Corona Tunnel, remembering to bring some of the slowness with us out the other side, would mean maybe there was a glimmer of good to be had from it after all.

It this all sounds too glass-half-full for those who’ve endured a lonely Christmas, or a bitter Covid, then I don’t mean be flippant.

Because, the other thing that this uniquely disjointed period has taught us, is the importance of looking after others, of looking out for each other.

As we all race into the planning and panic of another full year of resolutions to be upheld and self-promises to be broken, may we also remember the importance of that kindness.

The only real certainty of our lives is that they will end, one day. An appreciation of our existence as we live it, and a compassion for others simply trying to do the same, is perhaps the best New Year’s resolution we can make. Be kind to yourselves, and to others. And may 2022 bring you all the peace you deserve.

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Belfast Telegraph