We are almost there. Friends are vaccinated – they got their tickets to freedom. Nursing home residents got their shots, their passports to visitors. Conversations are lighter even as they consist of reports of what has not been done this past year, affirmations of good citizenship and pats on the back for not being superspreaders. Stories of not seeing loved are badges of honor. Tales of garage gatherings, backyard bubbles, and pod participants prevail. We should have invested in portable fire pits, bicycles, and adult snowsuits.
We are almost to the other side. I wonder what will change, how we will be different. I see it in others. My next door neighbor is now a champion sourdough bread baker. His culinary creations marvel any found in San Francisco. My sister Eileen, a Bon Appetit aficionado, has mastered buttery confections worthy of any five star restaurant. My friend Shannon – who in the past could care less about cooking – is now a recipe guru, including holistic, naturalist cures for simple ailments like heartburn and sleep loss. Family members have moved or are moving, concrete evidence of lifestyle shifts.
The pandemic facilitated change. When we’re in the midst of normalcy, autopilot is a mindless, easy course of action. We do what we always do because we’ve always done it. We’ve involuntarily stepped away from the norm, and many of us now we have time to reflect on the way we live, to consider alternative journeys, to shift and intentionally choose a new path, or hobby, or job, or home, or approach to life.
Last month, I opted to have a major surgery done on my right ankle due to posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, a degenerative disorder previously treated with shoe orthotics, creative taping, and loads of Ibuprofen. I wanted to put off the surgery for a year or two when my friend Teresa asked, “Why don’t you do it now? There’s nothing else to do during Covid.” So I did.
I’m four weeks into being cast-bound, surrounded by books on this couch – Ann Lamott’s Stiches, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism, Amanda Blake’s Your Body is your Brain, The Arbinger Institute’s The Outward Mindset, Five Minutes with the Word for Lent 2021 (how ironic), The Gospel According to John (my Lenten focus), Northouse’s Leadership, Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, and Winnie the Pooh’s Storybook Collection – in anticipation for Eileen and Charlie’s next visit. I also just unpacked my latest delivery – The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. I’m ready to host! I’m trying to figure out how to hoard all this great stuff into being a better me.
Then I reflect, see a new way, shift, and feel tremendous relief. It’s not about me. Thank goodness. There is collective growth. We are all indeed in this together.
The mandate of being transformed by a year of lockdown is like a command to be different at Easter. We don’t have to do it. We get to choose. I don’t have to figure this out. I can rest in unknowing and in the moment-by-moment soaking up the insight of great writers, the loving voice on the phone or smiling face on Zoom, the marvel of the white snow chef’s hat on our outdoor grill.
We don’t change because we have to; we change because we want to, because it’s fun and interesting and fascinating and inspiring. And sometimes the personal tweak is so subtle, we can’t articulate it. But we know there has been a softening, an opening. Complacency is like sludge or plaque, flow inhibitors in our hearts, literally and metaphorically. We intentionally strive to move toward a more grateful, creative, loving vision of ourselves and our world. We stumble, we get up, and we keep going. There’s no quitting allowed.
We are almost there.
In the meantime, we’re here – just where we’re supposed to be. I rejoice in that awareness. I’m not waiting until I’m vaccinated to dance in the joy of being right here – casted during Covid. Viktor Frankl got it right when he said we get to choose our attitude. We may be frustrated by the pace of the vaccine rollout. We may see injustice in the distribution. But we are not victims.
Dance. Do it in any way that makes you feel the aliveness of your soul. Friedrich Nietzche wrote, “Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
We get to stop, lean in, and listen to the rhythms that set us free. If you can’t hear the notes, ask a friend for help. Mine help me all the time.