I’m not one for resolutions, too much pressure and all my passive-aggressive tendencies kick in and it isn’t attractive. I truly hate to be told what to do, even if it is me telling myself to do what I came up with in the first place. I will not tolerate it.
This probably isn’t the year to waste much time on resolutions, anyway. We have hope on the horizon, two vaccines out there now, and more on the way. But even with the most spectacular logistics, we will be in our bubbles and pods for some time to come, and if we have learned anything in 2020, its that, at a moment’s notice, things can change.
We toddle toward the new decade as we leave behind the old one, masked, sanitized, and paunchy with sour dough and banana bread overload. But maybe with some new skills we had forgotten we have.
Like reading for pleasure.
I have read more this year than ever. The classics, murder mysteries, award winners, pure trash. I’ve loved them all. Right this very minute I am supposed to be reading Dickens’ “Little Dorrit” with my book group. They wanted something nice and long for the holidays.
We ZOOM our weekly meetings. Don’t tell them, but I can’t seem to get beyond chapter six, because I put the book down and have to start all over, it’s Dickens, after all, and I forget what I’ve just read.
My friends will have read at least through chapter twenty-three or so. I don’t even bother writing down the reading assignments now because I will never catch up. But that doesn’t keep me from attending the meeting, and, I am not kidding, contributing. But mostly I just want to hear their voices and see their faces and listen to the discussion. They come prepared. They are like a set of human cliffsnotes performing just for me.
My life has grown quieter, simpler, although I am more aware of the passage of time than ever. It seems to move so slowly, and yet I get fewer things done in a day. Even so, I am as leisurely, as unperturbed as I have ever been about this lack of industry. And I was pretty unperturbed before the virus.
I wonder if we are marking time in a different way, what with all the upheaval and change upon change upon change. Certainly we have all had to relearn habits and moderate expectations, and that impacts the rhythms of our days.
As alone as I have been most days—and I am such an extrovert I have almost no inner life—I have rarely been lonely and have come to value solitude. There is a peace in aloneness that I have never sat still long enough to appreciate. And aloneness here doesn’t only mean being solitary… perhaps you have been alone with just your immediate family in a way that is new to you, and perhaps you, too, have found the value in being still together, with no place to be and no distractions to pull you away.
And maybe that togetherness got to be too much, and you decided that some fresh air would do you good. And off you went on nice long walks, or you dusted off your bike and rode into the wind. Or you dug in the dirt and planted herbs and flowers, or built pizza ovens, or created a whole new outdoor space where crab grass used to grow.
Human beings are amazing creatures. When we finally stood up and walked on two feet it created all this room for our brains to grow large in all the right places. We make exceptional use of those opposable thumbs. It helps us persevere. With broken and heavy hearts some days, and in spite of uncertainty, and frustration, and fear, we figure it out.
It isn’t as if this pandemic hasn’t taken a toll. You would never hear me say that. But we know what to do. We have been doing it. I suppose if I had one resolution, it would this.
Read those books, get out the calendar I once used for appointments and lectures and presentations and pencil in dates for morning walks, make note of ZOOM meetings and virtual yoga. Pay attention to the good lessons of 2020, and there were some. Be smart, but be brave, too. Pay attention. Reach out. Connect. Rest. Calm down. Wash those hands.