Missing an opportunity
Someone asked me the other day how I’m managing all the changes that COVID has brought, how I’m attempting to keep life similar to what it was, and in what ways I’m adapting.
Once I brushed past the surface answers of behavior (finally using those cotton masks we bought for China!) I had to admit that I haven’t adapted much at all. I’ve been poking at present-tense coping strategies, but underneath that I’m basically just waiting for things to go back to normal, even as an increasing part of me accepts that it won’t. Not completely. And not soon. And perhaps that’s a good thing.
It’s incredibly tempting to nostalgize pre-COVID life, back when you could grocery shop a day at a time, go to events, and meet up with people whenever they were available. Those will come back, but focusing on them isn’t just editing reality, it’s missing an enormous opportunity.
Things weren’t all gold before. We had an environment ensconced in its handbasket to hell, world societies self-destructing under the incredibly poor leadership of right-wing demagogues, and everyone was too busy to feel much of anything beyond stress and exhaustion. But who had the time or space to do anything differently? It’s not like we had a massive global pause in which to halt our momentum and reassess, working out what we’d like to keep, what we’d like to scrap, and what we’d like to evolve about our own personal lives and our global behaviors.
Today is a bit of a Thing for me, an anniversary that holds no time and hopefully will not repeat. Today was to be the first day of my spring guiding season. Right now I’d be telling the group about the tour, setting expectations, and enjoying the tantalizing potential of a not-yet-known group of soon-to-be friends as we embarked on our intense shared experience.
Instead, I probably won’t talk to another human face-to-face today. That’s a bummer. And an opportunity.
I love my job and miss it already, but there were some things about it that I was just tolerating. Can I improve on those, during this break?
And while I love guiding, one of the ways I feel European is that I don’t think I’m defined by my job. It’s one of the big things I love doing, but it’s not my definition. So what is? What other things do I value about myself, want to foster, or add to my experience of this life?
Normally those questions are good for a wee ponder as I wait for an aperitivo, knowing they’ll be overwhelmed by people-watching or conversation before I take my first sip. But this year I have the chance to look at them a little longer.
Of course there’s more. As for many of us, this global pause has teeth for me. I miss guiding, and I miss getting a paycheck. I need more work. So, with this unprecedented opportunity, what kind of work should I seek? I like working with my hands, I miss the classroom, I enjoy learning new things. Go to electrician school? Look for a teaching gig? Just read a lot more?
I don’t know the answers. And to be honest, the questions are stressing me out. Some days I do next to nothing, amusing myself with distractions while I wait for my previous normal to reappear. But maybe, to some extent at least, I can take more advantage of this opportunity. But along with that goal, I have another one. To be nice to myself. This desire for change is good, but it’s also…a lot. Today, mourning the tour season that is not, I’m going to be extra nice to myself.
And maybe, being nicer to myself is part of what I’d like to change.
And you? How are you managing the changes, and/or attempting to keep life similar to before, and/or adapting to this moment? And how are you going to be kind to yourself today?