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The Six Word Story of 2020

Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened,
vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.

– Helen Keller

Every year, for many years, I’ve started the new year with the six word story that I feel summed up the prior one. As we’ve read here and in other six word articles on the site, I find them a powerful way to memorialize, focus, bring closure or clarity to our lives. I also find them very modern-living friendly; I’ve worked with countless people who find journaling too long and daunting, but everyone has time for six words.

2020, a year that no one expected, warrants closure. This one took many drafts and more thought than some, and may take more unpacking as well, but, in the end, for me, it fits. I truly encourage you, try it this time. Yes, I’ve said it almost every season of the year, and I mean it each time. If you’ve skipped all the other chances–do it now. Summarize, memorialize or just kick 2020 to the curb with six words. Then keep ’em, burn ’em, share ’em here or on social media or float ’em down a river, but do what you must to say farewell.

You will be the better for it.

We are more than we seemed.

Simple, right?

I had many others but this one made the cut. Why? It hits me in the stomach, which is what your should look for in yours. It captures both our strength and spirit, and honestly some of the more heart-wrenching surprises we faced, and also teases at the naiveite which fell away.

We saw the American 24/7 work culture turned on its head. And found we were not our offices, workplaces or business casuals.

We saw social injustice (again) and made our voices heard (some for the first time).

We saw secession in our country which continues to bring change.

We lost loved ones, and keep going in pain, but in their honor.

We found we were more than our Trick-or-Treating, Turkeys, Holiday Parties or a thronging Time Square at New Years.

We met online, using infrastructure that had existed underutilized for years.

We stayed home long enough to love it, hate it and grow closer.

We banded together and found strength and comfort.

We were divided, more than it seemed.

We saw industries change, and found they could.

We faced a global pandemic and are starting to emerge. I hope that we emerge into a better world, and a better year.

Just six words. But so much behind them. In many ways I was shocked, rocked, hurt and humbled by 2020. In other ways I found strength, hope, deep fellowship and love from and for more people than I expected. It was not a great year, but it taught lessons. In many ways, though suffering is always unwelcome, it scours away our surface, forces us to pause, and shows us what we are made of. As 2021 blooms, I say farewell to 2020, not as a departing friend but as a harsh teacher that I wish we had never faced. But now we have the rare opportunity to embrace more deeply that which suffering has shown us, if it is healthy and good, and the chance to change it, if we find that we didn’t like what we saw.

Try your six words. Say farewell and consider the lessons with the motivation they bring.

I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.

– Anne Frank

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