Lessons in Solitude
It feels like things are getting somewhat back to normal. I am lucky in that I did not lose any friends or family members to COVID. So to me getting back to normal means getting out of the house, enjoying the company of friends and family, and slowly getting back to experiencing life as I knew it before everything turned upside-down.
I've enjoyed traveling again, having friends over, taking the ferry to the city and roaming around. But there are some sweet things that I learned from that long period of isolation that I don't want to forget.
The experience for me is distilled to a few main lessons that I want to hold on to as I tip-toe back into life as I knew it:
It's okay to have some down time.
Reading a book, journaling, foraging for flowers, or reading the news are all worthy pursuits that don't have tangible metrics for productivity. They just somehow immeasurably enrich one's life. My daughter Andie and I were just talking about a morning early in the lockdown when we decided to light the fire, stay in bed and watch Little Women on a Wednesday morning. Now when I find myself with nothing on my to-do list, I try to take a deep breath, embrace the white space and enjoy my own company.
There's always more to learn.
Learning to make pizza from scratch was one of those moments of self discovery that I draw from all the time. I've always been intimidated by any kind of dough or pastry. So I decided to face my fear and make cast iron pizza for my family one night. It was a very messy, loud and fun experience that tested my patience, and resulted in some flawed but delicious pizzas. The lesson from that night was: Try. Even if you fail, you'll experience something new.
Relationships are my true wealth.
At first I was panicked about my ability to earn a living and support my family. But then I quickly shifted to panicking about losing someone close to me. What I realized: the true wealth in my life comes from the people in it. I spent some very sweet moments with my family during quarantine, and I learned to create moments of connection with people who weren't living in my house with me. I didn't necessarily take that for granted before, but I see now that proximity played a big part in my friendships. Not having the convenience of proximity forced me to really think about the people in my life that are important to me and nurture those relationships. Now I'm better at checking in with people, at sending mail when I'm thinking about someone, and at really listening and engaging in conversations with people I care about.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to adjust my perspective somewhat late in life. And I want to carry these lessons with me as the holiday season starts to take shape. I'll try to leave some space in my days and weeks to enjoy the quiet. I'll try to challenge myself to learn something new - perhaps I'll make something from all the pumpkins in the shop. And I'll try to cherish time with the important people in my life.