This time of year always inspires a looking back, a review of the year that is ending. Best of, worst of, all the days in between. 2020 has been like no other year in my life – I’m hoping to leave many of the experiences I’ve had firmly behind.

But I know I – and you – won’t be able to move forward, to go on, without a genuine period of reflection, meaning-making, and transcendence.

I was inspired to consider how to conceptualize this year by a short film about map-making. About counter map-making, really, on reconsidering how and why we make maps in the first place. From this film, I took a sense of possibility that the way we map a place – or I am suggesting here, a time – can be very personal, can tell a story, can be beautiful rather than what may conventionally be considered “accurate.”

Of course, this issue of map-making touches on history itself – who gets to make the maps? Who gets to tell my story or the story of my people, or of all people? Whoever tells the story and however they tell it matters.

It’s time we started making our own maps.

What will you take from 2020? That’s entirely up to you. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, in one way or another. “Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine./ Meanwhile the world goes on” said the late Mary Oliver and she’s right.

It doesn’t matter to me how much or how little you have suffered this year. My heart goes out to you.

One day soon, sit down quietly and think about the whole of this year. Write down or slowly dance or draw it out or just remember as much as you can. Remember each month, remember the highlights and the low moments. The unbearable waiting and then the arrival. The tension and the release. Your tears and your laughter. God I hope you had some laughter.

Wrap it all up however makes sense to you. Signal The End with a flourish.

Make your reflection as beautiful, as unique, as personal to you as you can. Create your own symbols and don’t forget the Key. This map is for you, by you. Share it with someone or keep it all to yourself.

And when you’re done with your map, be done with 2020. Burn it, keep it, finish with a deep bow. Everything that matters – everything you have gained or let go – you get to keep or leave all that.

Comparing won’t help. My 2020 versus yours. We have all lost a lot. Here’s what I’ve gained: a most fervent and deeply rooted understanding that in the end, in fact, at the very end, Love is all there is.

Cynthia Ransley, MA (’15), LLP is Communications Coordinator at MSP.

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