This Day, This Moment
As I write this, it has been two years since we left our offices because of Covid 19. I did my job remotely for the next nearly year and a half, like everyone else, but how I did practically everything changed dramatically that day. I remember imagining we would be working from home for a few weeks, during which time I would get back in better shape, do a lot of writing, and stay on top of my job. Then, we'd all go back to normal. None of that happened, but I did learn a lot about myself.
I know I’m not the first to say this, but the pandemic provided me with a kind of guideline for how I want to live. Not the part about masks and all the ridiculous arguments about protocols, but more about how I want to think about my life and what I really want to do with my time. And truthfully, I wasn’t even aware of it at first. During those first few weeks, I was still in the super-multi-tasking mode that regularly pervades most of our lives. I felt the stress of trying to meet deadlines and connect with my co-workers when all of it was being done from home. I also kept feeling like I should be doing more since I wasn’t doing much of anything else. But gradually, I realized that the less control I tried to have, the more things fell into place. I discovered that a rhythm emerged to my days when I was not trying to force one.
My heart is aimed toward appreciating what is in front of me, just as it is, and to not worry so much about what happened before or what could occur tomorrow.
I don’t know whether it was my age, or the daily news about Covid-19 deaths, but I could feel in myself this growing sense of wanting to live more fully—and not spend so much of my time and energy on what didn't feel meaningful. In June of 2020, I decided I’d work one more year, remotely of course. In that time of isolation and lack of control over external circumstances, besides working, I started paying closer attention to what brought me pleasure. I enjoyed taking my dogs out for a walk every day, making plans with my partner, reading books that had been covering my nightstand for months, learning to meditate, and just relaxing when I could. It felt weird in a way, because when my schedule unfolded more freely and organically, there was time to do what I needed to do and what I wanted to do. Because I’d lived for so many years on an externally determined schedule, it had never occurred to me that one just might emerge on its own.
My days themselves didn’t look all that different in terms of when I got up and when I went to bed, but there was more openness in between, more appreciation of smaller moments. When I retired in 2021, this slightly different way of being in the world was already in place, but I’m still exploring and still discovering. What stands out most to me is how relatively little time we have in the span of our lives, and how much I don’t want to spend those precious moments doing things I don't enjoy on some level.
It's easy to say that when you’re retired, I know. I’m also aware that it isn’t that simple to transform yourself. It's hard to go from being a person who spent most of her adult life concentrating on work to someone who wants to be in the moment and appreciate the sunrise. Still, we can evolve as humans, and my approach to each day is shifting. It isn’t instantaneous, and it isn’t perfect. Some days I slip back into old ways of thinking and chastise myself for not getting more done, or for trying to control my external world. But my heart is aimed toward appreciating what is in front of me, just as it is, and to not worry so much about what happened before or what could occur tomorrow. Some days that’s a big task. Other days, not so much.