This year’s been a roller coaster ride. We were waiting nervously at the top of it, then whooshing down the wheel, gasping for breath, we landed. Sort of.
Cancelled travel, pandemic panic, unpacking evacuation bags, wondering if the fire season is really over, or if we should re-pack those bags. We’re dealing with loss, illness or financial changes, solitude, kids at home, stretching to discover better television shows, or discovering new hobbies like amazing Zoom conversations all over the globe.
We clean closets, discover dust under dust collectors, work too hard if we have jobs or worry about no work. We stare dumbfounded at the tiniest bird we might not have noticed pre-pandemic. I talk to myself often now, wobbling around in my pandemic pajamas; bad hair days are easier to ignore, less fussing and brushing, saving money on lipstick.
There’s more time to ask what really matters, old memories and feelings surface that we once avoided by being distracted. Who are our real friends? How do we deal with our differences and the gargantuan divide between people? “In the middle of the night things well up from the past that are not always cause for rejoicing – the unsolved, the painful encounters, the mistakes, the reasons for shame or woe. But all, good or bad, painful or delightful weave themselves into a rich tapestry and all give me food for thought, food to grow on.” (May Sarton, At Seventy)
This worldwide pandemic forces introspection. I resist it, bristling at the many days in isolation. Weary from this traumatic year, I try to remember that Thoreau went to the woods to be in solitude and ponder life’s meaning and I have to laugh at myself. After all, monks stayed in monasteries to meditate for days and Californians paid big bucks to sit in silent retreats. Mother Teresa described the value of isolation well, “We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
It’s a roller coaster though, with so many beings hungry, businesses failing, and some people very ill. It’s a bumpy, historic year. Whatever we might be learning from it, be patient and gentle with yourself and others at this tempestuous time, post fires, unprecedented elections, and covid threats. If you get down, remember you’re not alone. You got this, you can meet whatever challenges you, one step at a time.
It’s natural to feel the ups and downs on such a wild ride. Some days are like walking in molasses, winter gravitation lulling us, sinking into our chairs, eating more popcorn, sleeping or watching old films. But, move outside your litter box a tiny bit to serve others. As Sister Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” It just takes a minute to say you care, even in your fuzzy slippers.
This year has been like a humongous magnifying glass. Our personal lives beg for inquiry, our politics horrify the world and getting our leader out of the White House is like trying to pass a kidney stone. There is egg on our faces, but, on the sunny side up, there’s humble gratitude for things we once took for granted, like this newspaper.