My 2022 Outlook

I held off writing this piece because I wanted a little whiff of 2022 before hastening to assign any labels or meaningless wishes to the new year. It's the same song and dance every end of year, isn’t it? The year comes to a close, and we almost too giddily sweep it out, as though it should be discarded with the rubbish in our dustbins. Then we proceed to usher in the coming year, imploring it to "treat us well," or to "behave." Because, you know, that personification boosts our chances of negotiating assured success.

If I'm being honest, 2020 and 2021 just blended into each other, like one indistinguishable continuum. In fact, my perception of time over those two years is very wishy-washy. In my mind, 2019 still seems like last year, and everything that's transpired since fell into the span of one seemingly endless, hopeless, wretched annum. 

I attribute it to simply how bizarre this epoch of the pandemic has been. Covid's hold over the world, over our collective health and well-being, our mobility, our happiness, is unmistakable. It has suspended the way the world goes round and somehow made these two years feel unremarkable. Don't get me wrong: I am well aware that 2020 & 2021 have rapidly gone down in the annals of history, but to me they were depressingly uneventful, and it's a challenge differentiating between the two years.

Where will 2022 take us? The horizon continues to be clouded with unrest and confusion.

Now the ultimate question is: will 2022 fare any better? Are you familiar with the “rule of three,” or “omne trium perfectum” in Latin? Good (or bad) things come in bundles of three. Already I see vestiges from the foregoing two years. In Lebanon, for example, the US dollar continues to annihilate the Lebanese pound, seconded no less by a struggle with perpetual electricity outages (nine hours a day where we live in the northern suburbs of Beirut), slothful internet speeds and shaky connectivity, stagnant infrastructure, and negative economic sentiment. Around the world, Covid-19 cases have exceeded the previous peak set in February 2021. Even as we navigate this surge, folks persist in their opposition to the vaccine, posing an impasse for how to overcome the coronavirus definitively. How many restrictions must be set in place before the obstinate shed their worldview and accept the shot?

On an individual level, I find myself constantly striving to remain afloat mentally. There's zero to look forward to, and as someone who thrives on planning ahead and setting tangible goals, I am groping in the dark as I try to forge a path forward. There's no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and this realization reduces me to a fragile state.

Admittedly, the little things have preserved my sanity and persuaded me to keep keeping on: A cheerful conversation with the baristas at the Dunkin near our home. A chilled glass of Marsyas red wine, once the kids have been tucked in bed. Homemade chewy chocolate chip cookies (finally discovered a foolproof recipe!). Molding the fine minds of my little ones. Duking it out with my husband over a game of Scrabble. And for the past two months, consuming a stream of cheesy Christmas romance flicks on Amazon Prime. I've already checked off close to two dozen, with a few more in my queue despite the fact that Christmas is a wrap. Hey, those films give me the warm, fuzzy feels in a world that's gone frigid.

It's all about the little things, isn't it? A quick visit to the local Dunkin is an injection of positivity for every member of my family, big and small.

At length, I will spare you vapid new year's resolutions that mean absolutely nothing. What then are my expectations for 2022? Little to none. That's one surefire way of curbing unnecessary disappointment. While I do see an extension of the foregoing two years, I hope humanity can find a way to march forward. But it's evident we have a long way to go. When our values are too scattered and antithetical to one another, then how can we expect to make progress? United we stand, divided we fall -- thus goes the adage. We just have to remember we’re all on the same side.

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