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Ten Things the Pandemic Took...

I started thinking yesterday about this topic. I found that I had this unintentional, yet growing list in my mind of things that used to have value and meaning, or at the very least, a purpose in my life pre-pandemic, that now have either been replaced or have become completely useless. I thought I would share if for no other reason than to bring a little levity to a time when emotions are running high and there seems to be so much on the line.

1. High heels - I have an entire closet devoted to my worship of high heels that now sits dormant. I dust off their shrine monthly and when I do, I wonder if they will ever be worn again. I just can’t see putting forth the effort they seem to require from me. Like somewhere over this last ten months, their purpose has become obsolete and the effort required to wear them gone. Like those heels were made for something that no longer exists. I am both sad and relieved. And even a little fearful that I CAN’T walk in them anymore.

2. Underwear - ok this probably falls into the TMI category but it kind of amazes me how I just don’t need them anymore. I used to be a woman with a love of lingerie and matching sets but now I just can’t be bothered and hate wearing anything but a body suit or camisole. I know you probably didn’t need to know this about me, but I had to share it because undergarments seem to have some sort of foundational underpinnings that is now just gone from my life. Like the effects of the pandemic have been so deeply felt that it has shaken my under wearing core. Weird. I know. But there you have it.

3. Make up - I have never worn a lot of it but now I just have whole days where I just don’t put it on at all and I don’t care. I literally look at my calendar to see how many zoom appointments I have. I have found that I need to have at least two or more in a day that make me do my hair and put on make up. I am not sure if this is progress...

4. Busyness - this has been a relatively more recent phenomenon but I have suddenly begun to panic when my calendar has a full day with lots of appointments especially in person or zoom ones. I used to launch myself into my day, running from one thing to the next, almost all of my days having a huge social punch and impact. Now if I have one thing to do on my calendar over a weekend I am annoyed. I kind of resent the intrusion into my otherwise quiet and easy weekend. It doesn’t seem to matter that I am bored or really lonely, I still resent anything that resembles busy.

5. Fear of boredom - Yep, it no longer freaks me out the way that it used to. I have been so incredibly bored lately and found a way to deal with it that didn’t involve online dating, shopping or the like. I just did this somewhat radical thing...I just enjoyed it. I wallowed in it and just got to know what boredom felt like. It was interesting, I was transported all the way back to childhood when I would be bored and where all the edginess around avoidance of boredom came from, and guess what, boredom is more ok with me now than I think it ever has been before. I have been given boredom to teach me to walk outside on a sunny day and just sit down in one of my lovely outdoor spaces and turn my face to the sun and just sit there...who knew?

6. Going places. I used to really need to go places all the time. Every day and weekend was hung on all the places I needed or wanted to go. My life now consists of the following places: the office (rarely), Target/Trader Joes (weekly), The beach (as often as I can get there) and that is it. Seriously, that is all. My life has gotten really simple and home based. And, much to my own amazement, I am absolutely ok with that.

7. Taking Health for Granted. I have thought that I have had the Rona like forty seven times in the last ten months. Each time brings a feeling of overwhelming panic while also bringing relief that my dread of contracting the virus might be alleviated finally. To date, I have been blessed with no infection for anyone in my household. And I am now daily aware of just how blessed I am to be healthy. I get up every day and take a big huge deep breath. I do this with the intention that those who are suffering and struggling to take a breath, are able to breathe deeply on their own again. I do this to remind myself that I am so very fortunate to be in good health. I am deeply grateful for that now on a daily basis.

8. Missing my children. This one cuts both ways. Even though I have always been here with them, raising them, talking to them, feeding them, parenting them, I am ashamed to admit that I also missed them a great deal of the time. I allowed all the busyness, events, work, and social demands to pull me in all kinds of directions so that even though I saw them every day, I missed really experiencing them a lot. Sad to say that I can still do this even though we are all locked down together...but I do it less frequently. I am more aware. It has also taken away the opportunity to miss my kids. I find myself tangled up with them more now and I find myself sometimes longing for an opportunity to miss them. Make them go away a little so that I can have the chance to miss them. Or me go away and miss them. Like all things in life, there is too much togetherness and not enough frequently at the same time.

9. Drive. Literally. I don’t go anywhere. All the driving I did has just stopped my car sitting idle in my driveway like some relic from the past instead of a place where I spend a great deal of my time. The pandemic also took a great deal of my driving ambition to accomplish and acquire. I just don’t care so much anymore. I want to do a good job, I want to be successful but that fervor I used to have, that fire in my belly just seems to be turned down to a steady simmer rather than the inferno that used to live there. Again, I am ok with this. It really has resulted in a much more comfortable internal existence for me.

10. Disconnection. Now this one is a little weird. But before the pandemic, I really had this idea that I was separate from everyone. That I was over here living this life alone in my world and thoughts a great deal of time. Now I know that we are all interconnected and that is the basis for all life. If someone sneezes in China, I will be impacted in Ojai, California eventually. There is an underlayment of connectedness that I missed before the pandemic. I saw it but I didn’t feel it before. Now I do. What is going on with you, good or bad, impacts me always. When there is a disturbance in the force, the life force, for one of us, there is a disturbance for all of us. I am connected whether I feel it or not, whether I like it or not. I am not disconnected even when I might want to be. And this is something that I cannot avoid despite the fact that I am the most isolated and alone that I have ever been. So in my disconnection, I have become the most connected I have ever felt. Weird.

These are just a few of the random things that I have noticed recently that have been removed by the pandemic. Not really a good or bad thing, just a simple acknowledgment that there once were these other things in my life that took up time and space and meaning and now they have been supplanted with other things, or beings, or not.

I feel like I have been stripped of a lot of things that were not serving me well before and now I am sitting in the somewhat barren living room of my life, waiting for the new furniture to arrive. Instead of things to sit on, I gaze around the room and view the newspaper laid out on the floor where the new stuff will go and find myself wondering why I can’t just keep the room bare? Why do I need to refill it with anything? Would it be so bad if I just let the space be empty?

It is a new thought to which I have no answer. I am just here haunting my own halls, realizing that there are others, many others who are in the same mental space. Confined and scared. Unsure of the future and how I will return to the demands of life once they beckon again. What will I have gained from this downtime? Will I have used it wisely or regrettably? Will I have used the removal of things that no longer serve me to better my life and the lives of others? Or will I return from this time, like a bear wakes from hibernation, hungry and ravenous for more? I guess time will, I am grateful for all the things removed and all the things not yet given. Today I am grateful for the void...I needed it.

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