It is cold today here in Alaska. Its been cold since last September if you ask me, but the snow is falling again softly and it is very quiet and dark. I am not feeling the greatest, so I did what you do when your not feeling great- you clean out the fridge and cabinets. 4 bags of trash later, I am exhausted and ready to tackle the dreaded 'junk drawer'. I was taking a coffee and smoke break when I got a email from my mother. Perfect timing! I settled down with my warm coffee and smoke and read what I think is a reality for many of us.
Time now has a new definition by Beverly (I gave it the titled, without her approval- don't tell her)
My COVID seemed to start the day after Valentine. Valentine was the last time my group of friends got together for our monthly game night. I blinked and then the world went into quarantine. Or in my case weekend quarantine. I got to go to work, mingle with people, receive a paycheck. Time, for me, was stilled regulated. I feel as if I got away with something. I didn’t have to fight boredom or gain 20 pounds after eating homemade baked goods. I didn’t have to worry about the mortgage payment or how to entertain moody teenagers desperate for their friends. I didn’t have to close down a business or try to remember 4th grade math for a kiddo. Yes, I have had pretty easy.
There are a lot of aspects to COVID that have fit quite nicely into my desired lifestyle. I love free time. The day on your calendar when nothing is scheduled. The day when time truly belonged to me. The day when I am truly who I am. Or at least who I think I am. The day filled with puttering. That thank you card finally written and stamped. That drawer cleaned out. A book finished. That glorious sense of accomplishment, the invisible crossing off on the list the task that has been poking you for weeks. I do love a good putter! The day when I can set the mood with my Balsam and Fir scented candle and instrumental Christian music. Side note: why is that on these sorts of days reading Shakespeare always appears to be a good idea? I have a shelf full of Shakespeare sonnets from Amazon that still remain unread. I digress. The day when there is time to water the plants, walk the dog on the big walk, not just around the block. My favorite part of the day is to wake up quite early just so I could it started. There is time to believe that anything is possible. Just because There is time.
Time for me is my greatest commodity. Maybe I am a hoarder of time? In my head anyways, in my self-talk, I am a hoarder of time. My friend calls with an invitation and my very first inclination is to say no. Not because I don’t enjoy their company or want to be a part of their world, I just don’t want to give away my time. Want to know a secret? I was happy when the telephone disappeared from our living room. I was brought up that a proper telephone call lasted exactly 3 minutes. My sister, brought up in the same house as me, was not taught that a phone call should only last 3 minutes; a proper phone call is one that is at least 40 minutes, only brought to a close by my lie that I needed to use the restroom or that someone was at the door. My dad and I are close and yet if you add up the time we actually speak in a year, it is 36 minutes. Exactly.
Pre-COVID, my calendar was in daily use. (Yes, I still use a paper calendar, don’t judge) Book club, dinners with my girlfriends, shopping with my daughters, game night, errands, outreach and church events, trips, vacations, holiday parties. On and on and on. Very rarely does my calendar contain something difficult. My husbands’ brain tumor surgery in January comes to mind. But on the whole, my calendar, my time, was full of lovely fun things with lovely fun people. Each penciled in with a ½ moment of regret of time being given away.
So, for the past few months I have, like so many of you, cleaned out closets, gone through boxes, drawers and attics. Our pile for Goodwill at one-point blocked entry to the freezer in the garage. (Poor Goodwill, when they opened their doors for the first-time post phase one quarantine and saw that long, long line of cars….) We have watched so many documentaries that I can safely brag that I know it all. English royalty, Irish gypsies, dog breeding, the history of gingerbread, the history of coffee, the history of …. well you get the idea.
I have passed through Spring, Summer and Fall 2020 in ecstasy of the abundance of time. But… (yes there is always a but isn’t there?) But time has meant something so very, very different for so many in the world. Time has been the lonely counter of empty hours. People have died, their Time robbed by COVID. Time has been the enemy, a daily battle, warring with need for human contact. The quiet hours that have stretched beyond endurance.
The events of 2020 are taking their place in history. 100 years from now our future generation will read of this pandemic, they will judge our actions, scrutinize our choices and ponder the depth of our endurance. I take great comfort in this fact. We learn from the past how to live in the future. For me, knowing that I have a place in history settles me. My name will not be written in a history book, my story on display, but I am part of the nameless individuals who are the generation who lived through the pandemic of 2020. (please Lord not 2021 too!)
This glorious profusion of time has given me an unexpected life lesson about hope. Hope truly does spring eternal. Webster's definition of hope is “to cherish a desire with anticipation.” Humanity is already reaping the rewards of this hope. We desire with anticipate an end to this pandemic. The restoration of the chaotic noise of living. I have been given time as a gift. I have had time to be reminded that my core value is my relationship with people. I miss time with you.
My life lesson is this:
I hope; I cherish, I desire with anticipation, a return to days when I have to chase solitude time. I will brush off the dust from my calendar and fill it with all the joyful events that living among my family and friends bring. I will still circle those carefully carved out opportunities of solitude with pleasure. The true gift of time however will be those I spend with my fellow humans.
Time and hope are gifts, true gifts.
Looking past the horrific of a pandemic, I have experienced many amazing things. I have learned how to knit scarfs, I have started really writing my book, I am enjoying workouts that are no longer forced miles in a certain amount of time, I have rekindle old friendships that would have been lost if I had stayed so busy, I have sent letters, I have made new virtual friends that are also writers.
What joy have you found my dear friends?