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Reporter’s view: What is your word of the year?

Reflections on a new year by Hope Standard reporter Emelie Peacock
While no new years resolutions will be coming with me, I did resolve (and succeed) to jump into the waters of Kawkawa Lake this Jan. 1. Part of my efforts to flow with what life has to give. (Screenshot courtesy of Anna Labadze)

Last New Years eve, feeling pensive as I always do, I thought of a word for the year. The word was ‘wellness.’ That single word was meant to encapsulate my hopes and dreams, as well as be an overarching theme, for the coming 365 days.

Many times during the height of the pandemic I laughed cynically to myself about the choice of this word. “Wellness? How the heck could I be so wrong?” I thought as I spent weeks confined indoors with only my two cats and the voices of Prime Minister Trudeau in the morning and Bonnie Henry in the afternoon to keep me company.

“Wellness? Hmmpf,” I scoffed as work became more precarious for me and many others, as millions of people became recipients of government funding to make it through the hardest times and as small businesses struggled to stay afloat while doing the right thing to keep people safe.

And as I witnessed the heartbreaking toll the pandemic was taking on friends across the world, their families and loved ones as well as seniors and vulnerable people in my own community, my heart was heavy and certainly didn’t feel well.

Yet, strangely, in many ways it was a year of wellness.

When the skies cleared over the eternally-smogged-in San Fernando Valley to reveal a view of Los Angeles and the sea beyond, the world became more well.

When species of birds and other wild animals not seen in years came back in droves as we humans watched from our varying states of lockdown, we caught a glimpse of a more healthy natural world.

When the sky emptied of passenger planes, the planet breathed a sigh of relief.

And when the real inequities in our society were exposed to those privileged enough not to have to see them in the before-COVID era, we were forced to examine what makes our societies sick. And perhaps imagine what could make them well.

What realizations has the pandemic brought to your life? Perhaps you have realized to a deeper extent how precious family is to you, how you really treasure and miss the daily interactions with your neighbours and local shopkeepers, or how the pace you had prior to the pandemic simply isn’t sustainable.

Perhaps you have endeavoured to use your spending to power local businesses and families rather than further enrich multinational behemoths.

Or maybe you’ve embarked on learning how, in your corner of the world, systemic failures and inequalities keep people impoverished, incarcerated, poorly housed and in poor health.

As I prepared to ring in this year, I didn’t shy away from choosing a word for 2021. Yet, admittedly, I steered clear of the all-too-optimistic choices.

So my word this year is flow.

Just as the water continues to flow no matter what the weather, I endeavour to keep going even if this year brings more pandemic difficulties before things improve. And just as water finds a way both gently and tenaciously through almost any obstacle in its path, I plan to find my way through a world wracked by insecurity.

If you’ve ever sat by Sucker’s Creek and just listened, a peace and serenity unmatched by most things in our modern world could overcome you. This is the energy I want to bring into the world this year.

And as a slightly crazed Swedish-Canadian, I started the new year by literally jumping into it. Or rather, jumping into the quite frigid albeit not yet iced over waters of Kawkawa Lake. Because there was no organized Polar Bear swim this year, I can lie to you and tell you that I flowed majestically (with no expletives flowing from my mouth) from the dock into the placid waters and out again. Few things feel so invigorating as a dip in icy waters below snow-covered mountains.

So whatever your word and your intention is for this year, I wish for you a beautiful 365 days. Let’s jump right in.

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