It struck me this afternoon that I was actually pausing. I didn’t need to look over my shoulder to see if there was a saber-tooth tiger behind me and I didn’t need to check ahead to see if there was a “Bridge Out!” sign. It did take me more than just a moment to actually notice the absence of tension, worry, fear, depression, pain, suffering, angst, brain fog, and forgetfulness. And not to just notice the absence, but experience the spaciousness of normal.
I awoke quite early and noticed that I felt rested. I did my morning routine and noticed I felt as if I accomplished something. I attended a meeting, participated, smiled and took notes. All of which did not unduly tax my capacity for paying attention and left me slightly energized. I worked my way through emails and read the New York Times. I did some bookkeeping. I paid some bills. I tidied up.
The Absence of Hunger
The hunger that sometimes drives me to eat too much wasn’t present, so I ate sensibly and felt satisfied. I drank filtered water and noticed how sweet it tasted. I sat in my living room chair and looked out at the winter landscape, which here in California is green. The sun illuminated everything in that clarity that comes after a rainstorm. The sky provided a Dresden-blue backdrop without competition from clouds.
I walked from room to room without purposeful strides, seeing things I look at every day with different eyes. I paused where the pictures on the wall were slightly askew but ignored the inner demand that I straighten them. My bed remained unmade, no longer meeting a standard of perfection I once was sentenced to meet.
Such a perfect day.
It did occur to me that I had to write a blog, but even that requirement feels spacious and without pressure. I can just sit here and share my thoughts and observations and then post them. A task with a beginning and middle and an end.
What Has Been Missing
This is what has been missing these past months. When COVID first reared its fearsome form, we couldn’t pin down a beginning. We had a location and we had a theory, but there was nothing firm. Now we are closing in on its origins. And while fingers are pointing and blame is being assigned, it will only truly come to a resting point when it can be definitively said that COVID started here, wherever that is.
The middle of this pandemic has changed over these months. Remember when there was a shortage of toilet paper and the world was coming to an end? We had to adjust to the absurdity of human behavior and find different ways to manage our anxiety. Now there is a sufficient stock of toilet paper, but shortages in vaccines. But there wasn’t even a vaccine to be in short-supply back in March of 2020. The middle has expanded and with each expansion, we have found ways to adapt to changing conditions.
The End Is In Sight
The end is in sight. No, truly! It really is! This is NOT good news for television programs that require we be in crisis 24/7. It is good news for our overworked and totally depleted nervous systems. More people are going to die before we attain the relative safety of herd immunity. But we are so close to getting there.
And, relatively speaking, it won’t be long before we will be talking about all of this in the past tense. “Remember when . . . .” and “Since then . . . “ and “Back before this happened . . . “
All of us have become used to wearing a mask. We may still complain and some of us continue to act like fools and not wear one, but most of us now mask up and can carry on conversations about the benefits of KN-95s versus surgical masks. Most of us have gotten into the habit of washing our hands all day long. And that is a good thing! Regardless of what germs are out there, hand sanitizer is here to stay, I say! But, still – there is a lot of pandemic fatigue going around.
I see more and more posts about people just wanting to hug one another! And people wanting to go out to dinner or a movie, or just be in close proximity to others without needing to use our internal vectors to estimate six feet. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to hear someone sneeze, and just say, “Gesundheit!” instead of ducking and covering.
Actually, we are probably in the most vulnerable point in this whole pandemic right now. Because we can see the finish line, some of us are slowing down. Maybe not keeping that six-foot circle of safety. Maybe forgetting to keep the mask over our nose. Maybe sneaking out for some good times with friends. Thinking maybe we have gotten away with it.
That is understandable. But what a way to ruin a perfect day.
There are some good things that have come out of all of this, as painful as this has been. I now see just how vulnerable I am to systems that look good on paper, but don’t deliver in the field. I now understand just how impotent politicians really are, and how essential grocery workers, caregivers, delivery folks and medical personnel are. I know where my gratitude lays and where I am going to demand better performance and productivity.
The problems that were with us a year ago are still with us now. My community cannot care for its older residents, its people of color, and those who are economically marginalized. Even those who have resources have been struggling with this. Our systems are built on sand and need to have new foundations lain in order to see that the quality of life we can have is made available to everyone.
I have learned lessons about self-sufficiency and my need to be in connection with others. I have learned how to stay present with sadness, loss, grief, and fear. I have learned that while I can do most things by myself, I am so much better for having others in my life who make me laugh and appreciate just how much I have to be grateful for.
Today was a perfect day because all of these things were part of it. Connection with friends and loved ones, engagement with ideas, movement, spirit, and memory. Having a sense of purpose and finding meaning in everyday things. Considering what is of value to me and how I want to preserve it so that others who come after me can, perhaps, struggle less and enjoy more. Being able to have choice and exercise agency in what I have and who I share my bounty with.
I hope you had a perfect day.