Sometimes it’s a “wake up call” that punches you square in the face that makes you take stock of your life and your relationships. Typically, a health crisis is the catalyst for such revelations. I should know, I had one. But interestingly enough, a pandemic seems to have the same effect. I know that I’ve recently been asking these questions of myself, “What relationships do I most value?” and “Am I doing my part to contribute to these relationships in a meaningful way?”
Most of us have been sitting at home for the past few months doing our part to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus, but what have we been doing to heighten the curve of our relationships?
Instead of “breaking bread” with our friends and loved ones, we’ve eaten all of our quarantine snacks (some of us within the first 48 hours) in the solitude of our own homes.
Our residences have become offices, classrooms, binge-watching caves, and kitchens without “We’re Closed, Come Back Later” signs. Clothes in our closets have shrunk from lack of sunlight (so we tell ourselves) and our grocery bills have easily doubled. I have two college kids home at the moment, so mine has easily quadrupled. GULP. On the flip side, the time I have had with my kids during this pandemic has been priceless. Conversations we wouldn’t have had otherwise have been a pleasant byproduct of the times. And for the most part, I still like them even though there are times they drive me crazy.
Ironically, we still don’t know what’s even happening tomorrow.
I have a confession to make. I am a Type A personality. I admit it. It’s my cross to bear, and somehow, a force within me that I cannot squelch. Always on the go, working on this project or that and rarely taking the time to slow down and “smell the roses.” Having to stay home of your own accord is one thing. Who wouldn’t like a weekend holed up in your bedroom watching Lifetime movies? But when you HAVE to stay home and almost “be still,” it is stifling for a person who needs to know what is happening next week. Ironically, we still don’t know what’s even happening tomorrow. On a positive note, I HAVE had time to binge-watch a lot of Netflix, and Amazon Prime shows over the past few weeks. Go ahead, ask me about any show. I’ve probably watched it.
I remember a time during my cancer journey when I would grapple with the forced slowing down of my life followed by questioning the true meaning of it. When I was well and back to my “piss and vinegar” self, I found myself right back on the road to Type A, like a derailed train fighting its way back onto the tracks. This time, I will ease back onto the tracks, if I even make it back on them at all.
As of late, we all have been forced into a slowing down of life – our freedoms to unwittingly move about any place other than a grocery or liquor store, the crazy almost “halt” of our economy, the devastating loss of jobs for many people – where has this led us? Are we wiser?
Have we taken the time to tell people in our life that we love them, that we appreciate their friendships? For me, I have decided to say more of what I’m feeling to the people I care about. My friends? Well, they may receive a random “I love you my friend” text or a call out of the blue to tell them I miss them. They might be wondering what I’ve been smoking, but I’ve learned once again that life is short and you have to grasp every moment as if it may never pass it’s way back to you again. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
In any event, how can the time we are living in make us better people? I tell my kids all the time, “Be better. Do better.” Translation – be better for others, do better for others. For me, this pandemic has paired self-isolation with much-needed self-reflection. My hope for this time is that we all emerge more self-aware. What we do and how we treat each other – it matters. It REALLY matters.