This particular dispatch is like the rest of 2020 in the sense that it is nothing like what we thought it is supposed to be. It is still written by me, the urbanist who occasionally takes long walks and writes short essays, but this one has nothing about living urban and instead is all about being human.

In the past weeks, I’ve seen lots of reflections written on social media and newsletters ranging from what one has learnt, what to ‘break-up’ with in 2020, and what to bring along in 2021. I started writing this last dispatch of the year thinking that I do not want to write another variation of it, simply because I have no desire to reject all that has past nor solve my life in the coming year. After all, isn’t all that pain and joy life itself? 

But after staring at my blinking cursor, writing, deleting, and re-writing, I found myself circling back to the idea of setting intentions for what is to come. It appears that it is the only thing we can do for ourselves as we bumble forward in the dark.

While there is no guarantee that the planted intention will grow into a seedling, much less blossom into a flowering plant, it seems to be the thing that brings hope to a life of unknowns. Planting an intention gives a light to guide decisions and a reason to try. It is the foundation of our prayers to a higher power. It also seems to be the force that defines our connection to ourselves and others. But even before I can plant an intention within, I feel a need to dig. Deep. 

I am feeling this need to excavate the cumulative expectations of others that I have carried over the years. The debris of purposes that do not serve me anymore needs to be removed. The layers of armour that I have worn needs to be undone. I feel this need to dig till I reach the centre of my heart – a place that Rumi says life begins – to plant my seed of intention.

It is here dear reader that I was led to further meta thoughts. What if my intention for 2021 is to actually prepare the ground so that a future intention can be planted? What if in my excavation I find an intention that was there all along, waiting to be nurtured into something more? What if I have been blind all along and am actually uprooting a grand tree of good intentions? 

These are questions that I do not have answers for and do not intend to answer since life does not begin when one have all the answers. Instead, the wisdom of poet Eliza Cook seems enough for me at this point of my life, “Take care of the minutes, and the days will take care of themselves.”  Indeed if the purpose of 2020 was to teach us that happiness is in the small things, then perhaps caring for this small unit of life is the best that we can do. It may be all we need to do for today and the unknown tomorrows. It may be the most basic intention that I can plant while digging deep.

Before I end this dispatch, I want to say thank you to all of you who have been reading my words. This newsletter was rebooted this year in uncertain terms, and you being here is encouraging me to continue writing it in 2021. Thank you for your generous time and attention. If you like, do send me your thoughts, prompts, or even questions and it may just be the words I write for you the next time. This whole Dispatch thing may be my adventure but you are very much on it with me too. 

Till the next time, may the best of your intentions for 2021 grow to be the best of you. 

With warmth, Adib