Friday, July 31, 2020

Dump the Slump


I just walked myself out of a slump—at least most of the way. I don’t get out of sorts easily, and I don’t like it one bit when I do. It’s boring, unproductive, and leads nowhere.


My recent slump occurred for several understandable reasons; a pandemic, the general state of the world, especially in the political arena, and the fact that I’m temporarily looking pretty freaky because of some bad skin issues. (There will be no photo to accompany this piece!)


It was hot out this morning and my search for shady places to walk was only minimally successful. Nevertheless I plugged along for an hour and 48 minutes, time enough to create an improvement in my general outlook.


People often accuse me of being an introvert and while I do lean in that direction, the Myers Briggs personality indicator puts me right in the middle between extrovert and introvert and I think that is where I belong. I know that 75 percent of Americans are extroverts so that puts me a bit out of sinc with the majority. My mate of many years and my four offspring are all solidly part of the majority, some more so than others. The four children have produced an even dozen grandchildren ranging in age from 15 to 31, six boys and six girls, outspoken, vivacious human beings that thrive on interaction with the world around them. To my great delight, these cousins get a huge charge out of interacting with one another.


I’ve lived alone for more than a quarter century and done so happily, enjoying my independence. But with the onset of coronavirus restrictions, my need to interact with my fellow human beings has become ever more obvious to me. 


One of the reasons for this feeling has to do with the fact that I have less that I have to do and more time on my hands. I love to grow things and pull weeds, but you can’t do that eight hours a day. I love to mess with the written word, but right now I don’t have an engaging project underway. Daily runs have deteriorated into daily walks. On occasion I can break into a run but I miss working up a really good sweat.


I talked to myself as I walked this morning, pointing out that it was time to “shape up or ship out.” Time to broaden my horizons, time to realize how incredibly fortunate I am to have family and friends nearby even if it is not as easy to spend time with them these days. 


Here’s what I think: When things look glum, step out the front door, head out into the world, be thankful to be alive, and talk kindly to yourself. 


Friday, July 17, 2020

Living Behind a Mask-A State of Disarray

 I wanted to share this piece written by John Frey, my brother.
       I get it. I recognize just how important these measures are to our tenuous hold on life. COVID is real, I don’t dispute that, and mandatory mask wearing and the like are the best ways to at least slow down its progress and, as they say, “flatten the curve”. I accept the science and support the powers that be in their efforts to attempt to keep us safe at every possible cost. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or to go quietly into the night accepting the cost that this may ultimately take in our human interactions. To the contrary, while we all must accept the changes that we are now subject to, we must equally recognize the ultimate threat that what is happening now may ultimately change our lives when the threat is over, and perhaps change the lives of generations to follow. 
       What of the disarray that it has made of our lives? How do we measure that in the long run, or even in the short term? What are we doing to our children by keeping them from socializing in schools? What will be the long term effects of keeping us locked in our houses? How can we survive rules that keep us “a social distance” apart and encourage limited contact with fellow members of our human race? 
I accept the science and believe that all of this is vitally necessary now, but I remain adrift on what will be left of life when COVID is conquered and we are free to return to life as we previously knew it, or at least thought we did?  What if we don’t remember? What of the sweetness of touching one another? Will we forget how to do that? What of interacting we each other intensively at things like theatres or grand sporting events? What about intimate dinners and drinks with someone you are just getting to know and perhaps fall in love with? 
Will we forget how to do all these things? Will a post-COVID society be the new society, the new normal? Will we be condemned to a life of wariness and fear? It is not what immediate havoc this pandemic has wrought that is the problem. The problem is the state of permanent disarray that we will be left with. Will we have nothing but the ashes of long gone memories, unable to restore the sweetness of what life was before we condemned ourselves to lives of loneliness, fear, and separation? 
I suggest it is time to not only remember what we had, but to record it for the future lives of all of us and those who follow. Talk and write of the sweetness of life. Write and remember intimacy with our fellow humans. Write and remember the richness of sharing space and shaking hands, of going off to school and work without the fear of spreading deadly germs. Remember the richness of taking minimal risks while being part of raucous crowds. Record what it was like go on a blind date or to a house party, where you will know but a few of the attendees when you first arrive. 
There is no question that society as a whole is struggling mightily to contain and ultimately defeat the horrid threat of COVID.  I applaud those efforts. The steps we are taking, may or may not be exactly correct or nearly enough, but we are ethically and intellectually bound to take them. Likewise, when we have won, if indeed we do win, we are equally bound to try to restore our societies to some semblance of what we had before, perhaps even eliminating some of the bad and replacing with good as recognition of the fight that we have fought. 
We must wear masks for as long as is necessary, but we must also remember to tear them off as quickly as we can when the threat is gone. The sweetness of life demands it. 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The First Bean

Here it is! The first bean of the season!


 And this morning I picked raspberries in my backyard and enough apples to make two batches of applesauce. I labeled the jars “ 7-9-2020” and popped them into the freezer.

None of us will soon forget 2020, this strange and crazy year when so many things seem topsy turvy, out of whack, and nothing like the normal we used to know and probably never will again.

It takes some getting used to, but since there is no other choice, grab yourself a fancy mask and get on out the door.

Even though you can’t see much of their faces, I think you’ll find people doing their best to smile with their eyes, give a friendly wave and often a cheery hello as well. 

I recently joined a community circle of people in my neighborhood who go to the Unitarian church and it has become an hour every week that I look forward to. We chat about our lives, our families, our gardens, our small surprises, and our discouraging moments, and somehow it is good to know that we all find ourselves in similar spots.

None of us gets to know what is around the next corner right now, but it is good to know that we will not be going there alone.