I’ve had this bumper sticker posted on my electrical box for a couple years now. New stainless steel refrigerators are no longer magnetized, sadly. It’s been a motto for me in my personal life and in my work life as well. I have one on the door of my office for students to see when they come for appointments. But no one has seen this message this year.
This year has been different. Is this what I was longing for? Not exactly..
I’m planning a small get together for my son’s 40th birthday and I’m totally out of my wheel house! I don’t know how to entertain more than three people at a time anymore and the thought of it overwhelms me. Life has become so simple and slow with the onset of Covid19 and a world pandemic.
My days consist of jumping on zoom and meeting with teenaged girls and sitting through sleep inducing zoom faculty meetings. I clean the house. I put food in the bird feeder outside. I go to the market. I read books. Cook dinner. Take hikes. Have a glass of wine and watch episode after episode of Schitt’s Creek.
From sun up to sun down the pattern repeats. The world has slowed down.
Yesterday I got my second vaccine. I stood in line in the hot sun for two hours contemplating the plight we’ve all been through- examining the various shapes and sizes of people waiting in line with me- wondering what their year has been like. As I sat in the after vaccine area for the required 15 minutes, I began to cry- the significance of the event weighing heavy on me- my humanity, my sense of community and how it’s been said over and over “We are all in this together”.
But we were not. In my work with my students, beginning last March, I heard about parents being laid off. About food insecurity and financial stressors. One student and her siblings were helping their parents shop and deliver Instacart on the weekends in order to make ends meet. A teacher lost both her parents in the early days of covid before treatment was honed. The news showed bodies being transported to refrigerated trucks juxtaposed to our then President claiming that the virus was all going to disappear magically.
What a mind fuck…
Today I hiked my favorite loop and contemplated the past year. I love this hike because it is a four mile trek and it’s impossible for me to get lost. So I can get lost in my thoughts. It’s my meditation. My labyrinth. I walk and things become clearer. I walk and I let go of my stress and worries. I walk and I pray.
Going forward, what do I want to take with me as I emerge from my personal cloud of isolation?
My weekly zoom with my brothers.
More home cooking and less eating out.
Less bullshit and more authenticity with the people I love.
An appreciation for everything I have- not the material things but the intangibles- family, a home, enough to eat, friends and an able body to move forward as I emerge from the quarantine gingerly and carefully.
Next year will be different. Kinder. Not so busy. More intentional. Let’s continue to remind one another about where we have been and what it was like. Let’s hold each other accountable to appreciate everything that makes life wonderful or at least bearable. Let’s not forget what this year has been like for many who didn’t make it through as easily as others.
Let’s continue to meet outdoors for hikes and picnics. Let’s keep in touch with our now perfected zoom skills. Let’s remember to quell our busyness and balance our lives with personal relationships and meaningful conversations. Let’s listen more and talk less.
As we watch Schitt’s Creek episode after episode, my son says to me “Mom, the whole point of this show is that they lost everything and now they live in this shit hole hotel together. But it’s bringing them together as a family!” He’s watched all of the seasons already but he’s rewatching them with me. And we are laughing together out loud!
So apropo and relevant.
Easter Sunday has snuck up on me and instead of traditional Catholic Mass followed by salty ham and a food coma we will be taking an early morning hike and feasting on some fresh eggs from the One Acre Farm in Morgan Hill. My spiritual life has been less contingent on the church calendar since I’ve been working remotely at my Catholic high school position as a counselor. There are fewer reminders of Lent and fasting and abstinence, hair shirts and self-flagellation. I do miss the music and the community. But I’ve gone inward and found a personal sanctuary of peace and tranquility that has little to do with the rituals of organized religion.
And I like it here. I think I’ll stay. I kind of like this slowed down world. How about you?