|Stay the Course|
Today is our 33rd day of staying home, sheltering in place. It's been almost five weeks.
This pandemic has had some lessons to teach us. At the the broader societal level, we have been learning that:
- To have a good life, our close relationships and other human connections matter most of all -- more than engaging work, personal accomplishments, material acquisitions, or fun activities.
- Essential workers, especially health care workers, have become our everyday heroes. They are ordinary people doing their jobs in extraordinary circumstances. They have reached deep inside and found the courage and faith to keep going, taking care of us all by making sure we have groceries, caring for the elderly and treating the ill, even while risking their own health and lives. When called upon, will each of us find our own inner hero?
- Leadership really matters. COVID-19 has shown us that the difference between good and poor leadership can be and presently is a matter of life and death. So we need to choose our leaders wisely.
- We are interconnected, globally. "Globalization" has been a buzz word for decades, but now we are learning what it really means. The disease transmission process demonstrates how people in each city, country, or continent affect each other. If people across the border from you have the coronavirus (or people on the next continent), it is only a matter of time until your city (or continent) has it too. To address it effectively, we have to work together across our communities and worldwide, supporting the "have-nots" as well as the "haves." We can apply this same insight about inter-connectivity to worldwide economics, food-security, and climate change.
|Trillium on Today's Hike|
All my life, I have been achievement-oriented -- a doer. I have approached life at full tilt, a ball of energy. I have no patience whatsoever, and have always felt that I must spend every moment of my life doing something productive. (On the plus side, I'm never bored.)
As you can imagine, I'm not very "zen." My greatest struggle in trying to learn to meditate is to make myself sit still "wasting time" doing "nothing" when I could be doing something productive.
My approach to life made the decision to retire difficult for me.
I retired in stages. The first part of the process lasted a year or two, and during it I agonized about whether and when to retire. Finally, I decided to step down from my role as an administrator (which was very stressful and causing negative health consequences), but without actually retiring. I planned to transition back to a teaching role after a year of earned sabbatical leave. Halfway through my sabbatical year, I realized I was, in fact, ready to retire. I've now been retired for almost three years.
I have included several links to blog posts I wrote back then tracking my thought process about retiring. I found it very hard to let go of my work. What I did everyday seemed to be core to who I was. When I was no longer working productively, who would I be?
As it turned out, I love being retired. I discovered I was still me, and that my work did not define who I was.
But, I brought my characteristic energy and work ethic to retirement and immediately joined a whole bunch of groups and organizations. Before I knew it, I once again had a calendar full of meetings and other commitments. Yes, the meetings were about things that I like to do -- art, writing, community volunteer work, social gatherings, exercise activities, book club, academic writing projects, and so on. It was nothing like the grueling long hours of work I used to do. But still, I no longer had many unscheduled chunks of time left. I was being productive -- all the time. I was also beating myself up for not doing even more.
|Manicotti stuffed with Spinach and Cheese|
|Homemade Berry Pie|
I've discovered that I love just puttering in the garden or in the kitchen. It is peaceful to have unscheduled contemplative days. Although I have appreciated zoom conferencing weekly with my yoga class and my blogging buddies, and monthly with my book club and my writers' group, I've resisted adding any more conferences into my days.
It no longer matters if it's Monday or Saturday. I don't have to go anywhere. I can just hang out at home, and go for a walk if the mood strikes. I'm no longer personally responsible for single-handedly solving climate change, or for writing the defining book of the century, and that's okay.
|Zoom Session with Blogging Buddies|
Let it be.