It is the week of Christmas in this year that began with the eruption of Taal Volcano and slowly evolved into the year of the pandemic. As it became clear that we would essentially spend virtually the entire year of 2020 in some form of quarantine, we realized that this was the year we would be telling our children and grandchildren about. It was a year of challenge and reckoning, a year of tests and illumination.
As we prepare for this Christmas in quarantine, we look back to this year in lockdown with renewed hope. After the full late-stage trial data on their COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech on 18 November and release of data on the Moderna vaccine on 30 November, Britain, Canada and the US quickly approved shots for emergency use in December. Additional vaccines have since released full late-stage trial data. As the year ends, the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has begun in the UK, the US and Canada and rollout is anticipated in other countries. As we look the beginning of 2021, our thoughts are now on how to rebuild in a post-lockdown world.
After many months of essentially waiting for the when and how of a vaccine, it has become clear that the wait is over. It is now only a matter of time before we can begin to achieve a new “new normal.” Clearly, it will be a different world. After the sobering experience of COVID-19, we will never again be quite as carefree or unprepared (or so we hope). It is, however, finally time for a reboot.
Closer to home, I am also anticipating a reboot. We had originally planned for 2020 to be a year of unwinding and travel. Clearly, travel was not meant to be. The many months in lockdown though proved to be a different sort of unwinding, a period of reconnecting and strengthening bonds. As the year ended, I managed to begin to fulfill a promise made to myself–that of going back to this column. In this week before the traditional year-ender, in this new phase of Integrations, I thought it would be good idea to take a quick look back.
For those of you who have been with me since the beginning, this is a trip down memory lane. For new readers, it is an exploration of how this column came to be, and how it has changed.
Beginning with endings
This column originally appeared on Fridays, signaling the end of the work week. I had been given an essentially blank work order with the assurance that Friday is when even business page readers are ready for something lighter.
I began the very first piece in this column with a quote from a novel written by one of my favorite authors. I continued with an explanation of origin of the column name, Integrations, and the concept for what the column was designed to be.
“Thou art God,” Mike repeated serenely. “That which groks. Anne is God. I am God. The happy grass are God. Jill groks in beauty always. Jill is God. All shaping and making and creating together -.” He croaked something in Martian and smiled.
—From Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
The human brain can really only hold on to about seven plus or minus two things at one time. At least, that is what many students of human psychology believe about human sort-term memory. Now, the reason you and I can function is we can rely on long-term memory–and what we know about human memory is that it is stored in multiply-linked chunks. This means that we store newly found information by finding the many ways that the new information links to what we already know. This, by the way, is also the way we access specific information–by finding it through the relationships we recognized in the past.
Writers put this in a much more poetic manner. We create ourselves and our worlds based on the stories we choose to tell ourselves in order to make sense of our personal experiences–what we see, hear, read about, smell, taste, feel.
This happens, some would have it, in an unconscious way when we dream. At night, our brains try to make sense of the input for the day. The random firings of our neurons while this happens result in dreams.
It happens in a much more conscious way when we go through new information and attempt to separate fact from opinion, truth from fiction. And the quality of our understanding and future decisions is based on the quality of this initial weeding out and understanding and linking.
So it is Friday, the end of the week. Time for sifting, analyzing and telling ourselves the new story that we will use to make sense of our world as we move on to next week. Time to integrate.
2005 was a year when the pre-need industry was unraveling and the legislature was occupied first with an impeachment and then a proposal for charter change, both of which were unsuccessful. For me, it was a year that marked many beginnings. It was the first year of the second decade of Solutions and marked the year when I seriously began to be involved in research on corporate social responsibility. 2005 was also the year when I began to to seriously work on coursework for my doctorate.
Shifting to the Center
Eleven and a half years passed until this column’s next existential moment. I was informed that the column would henceforth be moved to Wednesdays. As is the case with many writers, my column on 21st December 2016 was a reflection, not only of my surroundings but also of my personal circumstances. Below, I excerpt from the first Wednesday column.
Since this column began on the 24th of June in 2005, I have been writing for a Friday publication. That, then editor-in-chief Jojo Robles, explained to me meant that I could essentially bridge the work week to the weekend–hence, a much more light-hearted take on business and management. This week, things change. This column will begin to appear Wednesdays.
I have been thinking of what it means to write for a Wednesday paper. The Friday edition, as I have now begun to think about it, was essentially an integration of events and news of the past week–an attempt to make sense of the week before it ended. Wednesday, however, is very different. It is smack in the middle of the week. It is a time for evaluation. It is a time for reviewing what has been done and what still needs to be done. It is a time for reckoning and decision-making. Wednesday is a far more serious day than Friday.
I suppose this week, the penultimate week of 2016 is a great time to think about evaluation and reckoning. I will, after all, remember 2016 as a time of great change, and unexpected decisions.
I ended that column with an observation that has become even more meaningful this year.
The middle, after all, is really the core. When seeking to find our balance while traversing tricky paths, we are often told–find your center of gravity. So this shift from the end of the week to the middle of the week, seems appropriate for me. This individual center, that core of peace within you—that is the foundation of true knowledge and contentment.
This year, as the world looks to reboot and I shift my life away from work and towards more personal matters, centers have become even more important.
As we close 2020 and plan for the new year, let us build on a strong foundation built solidly on what is truly important. Merry Christmas to all!
Readers can email Maya at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit her site at http://integrations.tumblr.com.