Surprising lessons learnt from a year like no other

As we limp toward the finish line of this pong of a year, it feels stifling to not be able to express myself using all the colourful expletives in my palette. But, as we have all learnt to do, I will (takes breath and hisses through gritted teeth) … pivot.

It was the year of Zoom calls and getting out all those dusty puzzle games.

The myriad self-help books I have read* this year have all reminded me that you must be grateful for the things you already have, and believe in manifesting that which you still desire. (Honestly, you don't really need to buy the books, you'll find the main plot points emblazoned in diamantes on a throw cushion at Kmart for a dangerously reasonable price.)

So as we farewell this sewer-explosion of a year, I would like to express my gratitude. Firstly, to my ancestors for evolving me an opposable thumb that allowed me a good daily doom scroll. Or, as some people call it, keeping up with the news.

I'd like to also thank all those Uber Eats delivery drivers who, after I read an article about how humans are becoming less intelligent and sensorial because we have removed the need to forage for our food, didn't judge me when I asked if they could hide my daily orders around the building for me to sniff out.

I’m grateful for the steep decline in work/income, which has granted me the opportunity to live with mum again for a few months.

I'm also grateful for the steep decline in work/income, which has granted me the opportunity to live with mum again for a few months. Because what's good about an adult child returning to the parental home is that it is deeply humbling. All that work you've done on yourself, your independence and the respect you might have garnered in various aspects of your life is just torn away as you are reduced to a child again. No button unpushed, no trigger left idle. What a deeply grounding experience. Namaste.

This year I was also gifted the knowledge that mum has decided she is an amateur ghost hunter. A spectre detector. She was so proud one day when she saw me looking into the middle distance, asking, "Are you there? Can you hear me? Let me know if you can hear me". She thought I was having a séance. I was on a Zoom, but really, what's the difference? There's always someone on the call who is dead on the inside …. or a potato.

So sure, the year could have been better – we all could have seen this coming and bought shares in a puzzle company – but we've made it through (You have to show firgun** for the people in the booming puzzle industry. All those years; quiet, unassuming, playing the long game. I imagine they will be cracking the very fancy fizz come New Year's Eve. Haven't all the pieces fallen into place for them.)

My fingers are firmly crossed that the clatter of surplus empty bottles being poured into the recycling bin on January 1 will be attributed to the happy result of people gathering once again, rather than the sound of one lonely evening's coping strategy during bleak times.

And though our hands be cracked and dry from sanitisers whose vapours take our memories wafting back to bad tequila-soaked decisions we made in our 20s; and though all the psychologists are booked up for months as we beg them to tell us it will all be OK; and though our mothers are having more luck getting responses from spirits than we are from dates who have ghosted us; let us walk with vigour into a new year, believing it will be better because my cushions told me so.

*Began reading and bailed out about page 12, only to flick on some glossy, contrived trash I slurp up like sloppy mango dribbling down my chin.

**A new word I learnt this year which means "to be genuinely happy for someone else's good fortune or success, without agenda or jealousy". Isn't that nice.

Nikki Britton is an actor and a comedian.

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