Spring is upon us, vaccines are rolling out to all who want them, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel of the Covid pandemic, and we’re starting to do some things we haven’t done in a while. Even with simple events that used to be frequent, I’ve heard some unexpected reactions from friends lately.
- In sharing about hosting a dinner party, a friend said, “I’m so out of practice!” There was joy and also an unusual clumsiness in the act of hosting friends.
- Talking about gradual reintegration to being with people and enjoying more “normal” work and social activities, a friend spoke of re-entry anxiety.
- Another hostess with the mostest that I know well encountered nerves over hosting a group of friends for coffee and treats–something that would’ve been natural in the past.
We’ve been anticipating getting to do things like travel and enjoy happy hours for so long, and now we’re needing to retrain ourselves in a way. I’ve maintained running with friends and some dinner and entertainment with a tight circle. We’ve enjoyed our times together, and we’ve somehow had conversation topics even while latching on to anything of even small excitement in our lives. We haven’t had the typical flow of vacation stories, new restaurant reviews, reactions to concerts or museum exhibits, excitement over recreational activities, play by plays of sporting events, or even outdoor running events, etc. We’ve felt like we were missing out. And, when I look back, there has been so much good as well.
It’s important to take stock sometimes. In my work, we often talk about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Most of my friends and colleagues and I don’t even need to think about the basic building blocks. We’ve got the big comforts covered beyond just what we need–gainful and purposeful employment, which also provides for abundant food, comfortable shelter, clothing (though we’ve been rocking sweatpants mostly!), accessible and reliable medical care, transportation, etc.
We can easily cover the first three levels of Maslow. Still we’ve felt a sense of deprivation (this is called privilege, and not just privilege, but first-world privilege). Our wings have been clipped, we’ve been keeping our distance and covering our faces, our favorite dining locations and entertainment venues have been shut down. And still, I’m able to look back and know goodness in this time.
I’ve had deeper connection with the friends I’ve seen. I’ve been able to share with others. We’ve found ways to volunteer. We’ve had time with family for games and more puzzles than I can recall. We’ve taken time to learn new skills (working on my coding), and I’ve seen my kids master new skills (hello, fly springs and guitar). We have cooked really good meals…and eaten A LOT of takeout–both have been great! We’ve done projects around the house. We have figured out how to work at home, in-person, or in combination of those scenarios. We’ve had Zooms with people when otherwise we (or maybe I) wouldn’t have made time to connect. We have been creative in finding ways to honor family traditions, and they’ve still felt like home. We have spent time outside in all weather and enjoyed nature.
I looked back through photos from the time that we shut down (remember that two week stay home period?). It’s probably best we didn’t know what was coming and how long and how drastically we would change our ways. I think we would have despaired at the vision of the long haul ahead. In hindsight, though, it’s been hard and also good. We’ve made everything work even if it wasn’t all perfect. I had too many happy pictures and great memories to pull out for a short flip book-like video. And even so, what I ended with is abbreviated and very sped up. I realize I am fortunate to have this look back. I’ve written about gratitude before. Everything about it is good for us. The point of this exercise is that when we stop and take stock, there is much to appreciate all around us in just about any situation. Taking time to take stock is good.