This past week I canceled a trip to Washington, D.C. I had planned for later this month. Way back in April when I originally intended to go, I figured by the fall surely everything with COVID-19 would be sorted. That we’d shelter in place for a few months and then we’d be able to go about our business as usual.
As you know, that didn’t happen and it’s quite likely the rest of the year will continue in the same fashion it already has. Canceling my trip was somehow the watershed moment for me as I’ve realized how much this year has taken from all of us. I’ve cried so many times this week. I’ve grieved my inability to travel abroad as well as domestically. I’ve grieved how I can’t be closer than 6 feet to my friends without worry. I’ve grieved that plans and parties have all been scuppered. This year has been rough.
It’s not only COVID-19, it’s all of it. It’s Black Lives Matter, it’s climate change, it’s Donald Trump and the circus he’s ringleading. It’s fear of the future as well as fear of the present. I watch television shows and movies filmed before the pandemic and I feel wistful and envious of life before. When we took physical presence for granted. When we shook each other’s hands without a second thought. When we didn’t feel alarmed every time someone coughed. I’m sad. I’m really sad.
I posted on Instagram that I wish I could pull a Rip Van Winkle and wake up when the world is different. It’s true, I do. And at the same time as often happens with grief, the world becomes sharper so I’m recognizing what I truly care about. For me, this year is clarifying how much I miss my family and want to spend more time with them. It’s also clear to me if I don’t leave my bubble every three to four months, if I don’t travel somewhere, I lose my freaking mind. And because I can’t actually do that in the way I’d like, I’m dreaming more. I’m using Pinterest for the first time ever creating a board of all the places I want to visit. I haven’t made a list like that since high school.
For other people, the pandemic is providing clarity in terms of their living situations. They’re moving apartments, houses, states, even countries. They’re recognizing they don’t actually like where they live and doing something about it. The same is true with relationships: People are either breaking up or they’re settling down. This pandemic is shaking us all up like a snow globe, which has its pros as well as cons.
Something else this period is highlighting for me is how precious time is. It’s the commodity we can’t have back. I don’t particularly miss restaurants or going to shows. I miss lying on the grass next to someone else and watching the clouds go by, calling out the different shapes they make. I miss reading a book on the couch while my feet are brushing against my sister’s.
As a friend of mine says, this year is refocusing our attention on simple pleasures. Instead of worrying so much about achieving, progressing, and doing, in the U.S. anyway we’re slowing down, reconnecting with family and friends, and remembering what truly matters. In case it wasn’t clear, what truly matters is you.
I dream of a world where we remember what’s most important. A world where we value our relationships and connections over material goods. A world where we cherish the moments we have with one another as we recognize how finite they truly are.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.