We are coming up on a year since the term ‘quarantine’ jumped off the leaves of dusty history books and defined our reality. Many of us have been doing…nothing. With…no one. If you consider ‘to live’ an active verb, we’ve scarcely been alive. What lessons can we draw from a year of passive living?
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve acknowledged general good fortune. The past year has been a terrible time for anyone in flux. If you had to move, find a job, apply to school, have a baby, or undergo surgery, the task was significantly more difficult. My basic life condition is unchanged. It’s been a tough year for people living alone, or in small quarters. I have an ample house with a basement workshop, and a congenial housemate who’s a terrific cook. It’s been a stir-crazy year for people stuck at home. I’ve been fortunate to maintain a steady gig at the local hospital, thereby claiming a legitimate excuse to be out and about. I’m also the perfect demographic to survive the pandemic least scathed. At 66, I’m on the young side of those most likely to die from coronavirus. Yet, since I’m retired, and hardly essential, I can avoid unwarranted exposure.
But there’s another benefit of living through a pandemic at my age, as opposed to say, forty, or twenty, or even five. There isn’t much to ‘do’ during a pandemic except recollect when ‘doing’ was possible. So it’s handy to have a sixty-five-year catalogue to draw upon.
A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this terrific article about two long distance cyclists who meet, serendipitously, on the Steppes of Russia. I loved the article and following the cyclists’ adventures. Of course, I enjoyed it all the more because it evoked parallel memories of my own bicycle adventure. The article prompted me to realize how much more we can appreciate what we read, and watch, and podcast, when we endue the content with personal experience. Since I’ve had a corresponding experience, the article gave me pleasure. If I was twenty years old, bursting with energy, stuck at home, the same article might only cause frustration.
My hope for that energetic twenty-year-old is that the adventure I enjoy by experiencing it through the rear-view mirror becomes their motivation for action once this pandemic-thing is over. That all the action they’ve had to constrain springs forth in a fulfilling post-pandemic life.