Joan Koczor
Joan Koczor

Every great tragedy leaves its mark. WWII. The Great Depression followed the stock market crash in 1929 and lasted 10 years. The attack on the Twin Towers in New York.

The senseless violence recently imposed on our cities. Statues representing those who were an important part of our history destroyed. Cities damaged by fire and vandalism. Churches were not spared. So wrong. Add to that the COVID-19 pandemic we were dealt early in 2020.

The restrictions imposed. Pandemic. Wash your hands. Social distance. Wear masks. Exercise caution wherever you go.

Store shelves being quickly depleted. People left without everyday essentials. All the things we thought would always be there were suddenly gone. We were left to scramble to find what was necessary. Relied on strangers for help. Who would have thought there would be so much excitement seeing toilet paper on the store shelves?  And going in one direction only down the store aisles.

What have we learned in 2020? Will the changes and lessons carry into 2021? How have we transformed?

Our safety, and the safety of family and friends, has become the No. 1 priority.

The pandemic has forced people to adapt and do things they would not have considered 10 months ago. Working from a kitchen table home office. Trying to remain safe and virus-free in jobs that require public contact. “Homeschooling” the children. Working with a reduced income. It’s the “new normal.”

For many of us, quarantine has forced us to return to a simpler life. Days are not as hectic. The majority of our day is spent in our homes with our families. Enjoying the simple things like playing a board game, doing a jigsaw puzzle or taking a walk. Or just talking — really talking — to each other.

Physical health is important but let’s not forget mental health. It has been severely compromised. Isolation from others has increased depression and anxiety levels.

Let us learn from 2020. Think about the mistakes we have made. Could we have done things differently? Have we learned to be content with what we have? Has 2020 and all we’ve endured has made us a stronger and wiser, and more tolerant of others’ behavior?

We survived. 2021 has arrived, holding great promise for change.

May the New Year bring you peace, happiness and continued good health.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Board.

This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa magazine.