IN OCTOBER OF 2020, MY FRIENDS — A COUPLE — MOVED INTO THE apartment above mine. Coming off a blissful summer of patio parties and near-zero COVID cases, Ontario was in the thick of a second wave and the temperature rarely inched above a brisk 11 degrees. There was little to do but sit at home and master autumnal soup recipes. The prospect of regular movie nights and dinner parties with my new neighbours was the only thing keeping me from transitioning fully into Jack Torrance from The Shining.
But all good things must come to an end: two weeks after move-in day, the couple informed me that their company was transferring them to London in three months. The announcement shattered my Friends fantasy of having an open-door policy, post-collegiate life — a dream I was clinging to to avoid facing another lockdown in solitude, this time with snow. My holiday calendar already looked bleak, with no Thanksgiving, birthday celebrations, friends’ Christmas parties, or New Year’s Eve. Now, a feeling of hopelessness encroached.
In a previous editor’s letter, I confessed my belief in the aphorism man plans and God laughs — the idea that we can’t control our own destiny. This year and a half has tested my faith in any higher power guiding us but has certainly reinforced the latter notion. I’m not pessimistic by nature, but I needed…something. A flicker of hope to pull me out of this funk.
Then, in November of last year, my niece was born. Hazel is the first baby in our immediate family, and (get ready for another cliché) makes everything better. Her overwhelming cuteness aside, watching her become a person — meeting milestones, becoming more curious about her surroundings, literally standing on her own two feet — is a source of boundless joy. It rights my perspective back on its axis and replaces my fear for the future with hope — and invests me with a deeper responsibility to shape it.
A few subsequent developments have also provided a much-needed boost during a bleak period. A month after Hazel was born, I got this job. A month after that, I signed a lease for a new apartment. New jobs, new apartments, and even newborn nieces can’t solve all your problems, let alone the world’s. But just as a period of growth after a low point helps build resilience, these personal and professional milestones help build momentum. They instill a sense of hope, optimism, and purpose that propel you forward when you feel rudderless.
We try to capture that feeling of moving forward in this issue. Cover star — and I do mean star — Nicholas Braun shares how he overcame early career obstacles to succeed in Hollywood. We talk about how to build a greener future in the face of climate change. We also share tips on how to start your art collection and where to vacation next, and provide back-to-work style inspiration that will make you want to invest in a pastel-coloured double-breasted suit. These stories make the future feel a little brighter and remind us that there are always new things to discover and be excited about.
In the meantime, I’m going to follow my niece’s lead and take things one step at a time.