I knew that New Year’s Eve this year would be different; but I never quite thought or expected it to better than the rest. After years of organizing big parties with friends, traveling to the best spots and seeing fireworks above the tallest tower in the world, 2020’s New Year’s Eve still outshined them all.
2020 was about a different form of travel – it was about valuing human connection and honest relationships. It was about merging our hearts, internalizing other worlds, opening our young souls to the sufferings of others, and learning about the labor of love.
2020 was about the full human experience. It was about feeling the pain and struggles of one’s own mother, father, sister or brother and grandparents, but also about rekindling our lost connection with them.
On the eve of New Year’s, in the midst of a global pandemic, I did not long for celebration, but of warmth and connection. I longed for meaningful conversations and understanding, and most of all, for honesty.
Sitting around the dinner table with my family on New Year’s Eve, I realized that the human experience lies in not only in what we live for, but also how we live. It is about striving to be honest with ourselves and truly be present – feeling peace and gratitude with what we have now and cling to every moment we can experience.
“Our purpose in life is not to really achieve anything, but to simply try,” my father said. We were all gathered around the table as a family for the first time in weeks, and I remembered how much I missed hearing my father’s old wisdoms on life, and feeling like a young child relearning everything they knew each time he said a quote or two.
“It’s true,” I responded back. For nearly half of the entire year, I spent it pondering on whether I achieved anything meaningful or purposeful. I was questioning everything and became overcritical of my own and others’ work. It was either I achieve impact in everything I do, or I simply do nothing at all.
Just two hours before the clock strikes midnight, we cuddled up on the sofa with our hot drinks to watch Pixar’s latest film ‘Soul’. There isn’t truly any other hopeful way to exit 2020 other than through this film, and I believe it be the studio’s most poignant works yet. Watching it was like a cleanse of the soul, and amid all the chaos and drama of this year, it took us back to the very basic questions of life: our true origin.
“A spark isn’t a soul’s purpose” is one of the famous lines said in the film, and it can’t be more relevant today. We have to learn how to simply love and appreciate all the simple things life offers us, from food, to family and friends, and even just walking.
There is a scene of Joe Gardner, the music teacher in the film, stares into the clear skies and simply observes everything around him: the wind, the people, and the streets. After spending his entire life searching for a ‘special’ kind of feeling of happiness, he realized that this feeling would not come from an achievement in life, but from simply learning how to live every single day. It is about appreciating the miracle of being alive.
And this is how I ended my 2020. I ended it feeling grateful that my family are still beside me, and that I get to see them often, and hear them, and talk to them whenever I can. I ended it feeling hopeful, and ever more positive, that no matter what happens, I’ll always have them by my side to get through anything.
I ended it knowing that a soul’s purpose is to be present in every moment.
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