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We are in it together!

My calendar is becoming empty. For the first two weeks in March, much was written on it — lunch with a friend, doctor’s appointment, a workshop, meeting with Rose, dinner date, etc.

Very soon, my schedule was a list of scratches, as if all had been accomplished and crossed off. But, as we all are aware, our life, as evidenced by my own calendar, is shifting, disappearing (as we know it), for the moment; taking on a very different hue.

We no longer enter public places without extreme caution.  We pick up our groceries at curbside. We carry alcohol wipes when we visit the gas station. Seemingly O.K., suddenly some of us find ourselves in tears. We can only hold it in for so long.

For the first few days of self-isolation, I had a mental list of all I wanted to do — deep cleaning my home, re-arranging and stacking more wood, writing, painting, meditating, tuning into on-line exercise classes, and generally turning toward my own inner experience, while dealing with the uncertainty and fear that surround us.

Our late winter snowstorm made some of this isolation more palatable. And, I had a chance for some outside exercise, shoveling snow.

After a week, I started to lose steam. I lacked inspiration for anything creative.  I felt distracted and anxious. My emotions were up and down. I was trying to “normalize” what wasn’t normal — trying to eliminate the negative, while disparaging the “hopeful scenario” that certain leaders were trying to toss to the American public.

In the midst of the concern for health, finances, community sustainability, and slowness of federal response to the crisis however, something else is emerging.

I am starting to notice and appreciate what is happening in my own backyard. I don’t need Netflix as much. Where I had a love/hate fascination with network news I am now turning most of it off, as it was only increasing my anxiety.

I am taking time to communicate with those important people I haven’t spoken to in months, and in some cases, years. My family and I participated in a “face-time” happy hour that included eight people in five cities.

Another friend shared with me what he is doing with his “out-of-work” time. As an artist, he no longer chooses to access his gallery, as there are now no visitors. Instead he is making a 3-D collage within his home, turning each wall into its own canvas and work of art.

At the moment, however, I am observing more closely what is happening outside my window. Listening to a blue jay tap on the outside of my house, I open the curtain and watch, as he makes his third attempt at building a nest on my outdoor motion-detecting light. Arranging a certain configuration of twigs it does resemble the beginnings of a nest. And, then, one more twig, and the entire nest falls to the ground.

I have observed this same behavior the last several years; he has never been successful. I pause to wonder whether there is something amiss about this jay. Maybe he is just a good example of perseverance. Or perhaps he has picked up a slightly human trait of building where he shouldn’t.

I suspect that things will never be the same after this Covid-19 fades into history. As we walk into the future we can have the opportunity to let go of things and habitual behaviors that no longer serve us, making space for a new look at life and what is truly important.

Right now we may have fewer outward choices in our lives, but at some point we will be looking at what in our lives will work better, both individually and as a greater community.

For now, however, we can either choose to leave the calendar blank … or we can write on it and plan a different activity, meet in a different way, and perhaps, make a connection that wouldn’t have happened in a “normal” time.  Stay safe and healthy.

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