Life Retrospective

The Year of We – 2020 Retrospective

With 2020 coming to an end we are saying good-bye to an era that raised and shaped our generation. After everything that happened, life will never go back to normal — it will move on, transform, advance, and become normal eventually as we all get used to the new reality.

Even our steady life in Canada was shaken by the breath of this new plague. We were reminded of how fragile humans are in the face of nature, both physically and mentally; how tenuous our social institutions are and how it can all go to hell if we stop paying attention.

I’ve been working from home, dealing with uncertainty and enjoying people from a distance (like my dear friend Edmund put it) for a while — 2020 didn’t change my life much but it changed my perspective. If I had to name it, I’d call it a ‘Year of Going from Me to We‘.

  • We — as humans sharing the backyard with squirrels, racoons, birds and other kinds of local wildlife.
  • We — as a group of people living in a shared house and keeping it safe for each other.
  • We — as a team working from different parts of the world.
  • We — as a couple.
  • We — as a family, (finally) making real plans for the future. 
  • We — as a society going through the pandemic.

As my analogue reality shrunk down to a tiny bubble of closest friends and family, I got more curious about what’s happening out in the wider world. For the first time I subscribed to a real magazine and started watching news on a regular basis.

It took monkeys a few millennia to build civil society on this space rock. Seeing what’s happening in Belarus, Russia, US, China and etc. I feel grateful to live in a place where it mostly functions. I appreciate what our government has been doing for people and businesses in hard times. I’m glad I can trust that an ambulance will come if I call it and I respect that people are free to express their opinions publicly — even though I disagree with some and others are misguided to the point of being very dangerous (i.e. anti-maskers).  

My world got more global: I got closer to my overseas friends, my distributed team, and finished two full illustration courses from a school in my hometown (despite the 12-13hr time difference). My new world is more connected. And less than ever does it have to do with location or political borders.

Local got a new meaning as well — it’s now all about appreciating small things in my immediate vicinity. The Fiddle-leaf Fig leaf sprouting new leaves; Frankenstein, the squirrel getting mites; Racoon Gang Breaking into the Roof — were some of the “local” headlines this year.  

Don’t think I’m crazy — said a tall older gentleman in a dress suit standing in a hallway of my house. +30 outside, AC barely keeping up with the temperature indoors. He looked at me, at his nice suit and back at me: My daughter’s wedding  is at 2pm today in London — London, the UK. I can’t be there with her in person, but I’m zooming in after lunch. That was my first conversation with Luke, one of the tenants in our airbnb.

There were a lot of people like Luke stuck in Toronto because of Covid – cut from their families, waiting for the borders to reopen. Our tenants (we have 4 in a separate part of the house) formed their own little bubble — we saw them hanging out, celebrating birthdays and sharing thanksgiving dinner together. They even invited us a few times. It’s great to see the space we set up to help us pay the bills getting filled with meaningful human experiences and evolving into something more than just a place to stay. 

As a team we’ve wrapped up a great year at Oddbee. I wrote about it in ‘Business lessons from Covid’. I cannot say enough about the focus — never did I have enough of it nor did I realize how necessary it was.  Without distractions I developed a more consistent work routine and got a lot more done.

I got a bit better at drawing the line between work and play. As things were getting busier at my home office I realized I may never finish all the things I want before calling it a day — I have to put a hard stop and pick it up the next day with new energy. For the first time since I started Oddbee I went on a real vacation, as in disconnected from my devices for a whole week while the work was still being done. 

As a society we’ve gone through a lot of uncertainty this year. Some coped with it better than others. On the upside I saw a tremendous response from the creative community: artists, musicians, performers and bloggers releasing a ton of great content into the world. On the down side — it gave rise to a multitude of conspiracies. It exposed how vulnerable we are, especially the most emotionally reactive among us, whose hearts respond ahead of their minds.  Even more disheartening, was to see some of my friends sliding down the 5G slope or blaming Bill Gates for their problems. On a related note — I read a good book Gates recommended: The Great Influenza — if you give it a try you’d be amazed by how much history is repeating itself. Although the governments weren’t prepared for the pandemic and denied its severity for a while, just like in 1918 — medicine has come a long way since then and even the craziest of conspiracy theorists didn’t kill their dogs this time (true story).

We continue working together as a couple — Jordan is officially in charge of sales at Oddbee. I see how enjoying each other’s company 24/7 can be challenging, any of my previous relationships would likely fail this test. We learned to give each other more personal space, work from different rooms, schedule ‘meetings’ to talk about different issues separately – house fixes, work, family, fun stuff and don’t let the problems linger for too long. I can’t imagine spending the lockdown with anyone else.

As a family we’ve started talking about our problems and making real plans for the future. My sister arrived in Canada just 2 days ago as a student – a beginning of a new beautiful chapter for her and for us. 

None of my 2020 went according to plan, but somehow it led to the results I was hoping for: more solo time, more personal projects, fitness routine (thanks to Armbaroff), my sister in college and business in better shape.

This year was largely about cutting through the noise and paying attention to what’s important. I read, exercised, cooked and illustrated more. The illustrations in this blog post were originally created as a final assignment for Digital illustration course by wonderful Krapiva (I highly recommend her to my Russian-speaking friends until she starts broadcasting her skills in English 😛) I drew a lot more and more intentionally. I started publishing my big alphabet project — Medieval Millennials — most of it now done, looking forward to sharing the rest of it in 2021.

Next year I’m hoping for:

  • Travel! (pretty much anywhere at this point)
  • Parties
  • House parties
  • New people
  • More writing

Watching the world drama on display from my cozy bubble and hoping that nothing else will come through before the clock hits midnight, I want to wish everyone a better 2021. As they say — From our bubble to yours — Happy New Year!