As we come up to the end of one of the weirdest years ever, I’ve been reflecting on the good, the bad and ugly of the year.
Back in March, I wrote a post called Rough Waters Make Good Sailors. We were such innocents in March. This new thing call a pandemic was just beginning. We were going into shutdowns that were believed to solve the problem if only we would shelter in place for a few weeks. Surely this would all be over by summer, right?
As I watched all kinds of fun plans melt off of my calendar, I wondered what I could still do. In the spring, I was just taking up sculling on the lake. Would that be allowed? How about riding horses? Water skiing? Hiking?
At the height of the shelter in place madness, I was out on the lake in my rowing shell and I caught myself wondering “Is this ok?” “What if someone tells me to get back in my house?” “What if I see the police boat?” “Can I catch the virus out here?”
It was that last thought that brought me back to reality. My thoughts out on the lake were driven by two questions. The first involved the age old fear of “What will people think?” I learned it early, when my mother told me to wear clean underwear in case I got in an accident. Even as a child, I took that advice with a grain of salt. After all, it was clear to me that if I had an accident, my underwear would soiled by what ever event took me to the hospital. My child brain also questioned the logic of “Eat all your peas – kids are starving in China.” If that were really the reason I should not waste my food, should we not be boxing it up and shipping to someone who needed it more?
The more pertinent question involved the virus – or more specifically – how does one catch or avoid this virus? Clearly, I would not catch the virus out on the lake. However, if someone in a boat who happened to be contagious decided to pull up closely to me and they coughed or sneezed or spat on me, I might very well catch it. What people thought did not matter; the arbitrary rules that were being put in place did not matter; my neighbors opinions did not matter.
How this virus transmits from one to another did matter.
So I laughed off the last question and realized that no, I would not catch the virus out on the lake. I realized “I can still row.”
Then I realized that I could still hike. And ride horses. And water ski. And write. And throw pottery. And work with my clients. And connect with friends and colleagues, new and old, through technology and in person if we stayed out of each other’s bubble.
The list of things I could still do were immense, if I would only choose to see it and be grateful for it.
Instead of longing for things to go back to “normal”, I’m choosing to focus on loving what I have, which in turn, makes what I have all the more sweet. By the way, that’s not happening all the time. I still occasionally have a little pity party about the complications brought on by the pandemic. Then I start feeling shitty and remember that’s a choice too.
My plans for gathering at Thanksgiving have changed and scaled back – along with millions of others. My plans for giving thanks have not scaled back at all. In fact, I’m more grateful than ever for what I can still do.
In the middle of this weirdest of years, what are you grateful for? Who are you grateful for? What are you choosing now?