November already?! Let me be the first to wish you a Happy New Year. (It’ll be here before we know it). It’s somewhat disconcerting, this time acceleration. Christmas is a blinkaway, but I don’t want to miss any of the time in between. I’ve heard that the pandemic is warping our sense of time, and I’ve noticed that every time I look at a clock it’s says 8:00pm. As much as I want this pandemic to be over, I just don’t want to miss the time. This is important, unrecoverable time.
Our experiences vary widely of course, but there seem to be two opposite categories of pandemic reality. Some people have more time than they know how to use, while others of us are attempting impossible schedules. Personally, I fall into the latter category. My days are spent “working” as much as I physically can, early mornings and late nights, almost everyday. Some days, I spend 8 hours in Zoom even before beginning the more challenging work of the day. It’s awesome. I love every second of it. I love it because I feel so lucky to make even a small positive musical impact in the world, even if remotely. I cherish this level of busy-ness. I am either taking care of my three children, teaching virtual music lessons, or doing my work for First Parish...my three favorite things to do. I owe First Parish a debt of gratitude for providing a seemingly endless supply of meaningful, life-affirming work and learning. I love it all. It feels so important. It is important.
I have a lot of respect for those who struggle to fill the time, or who are isolated, or without enjoyable work. I’ve seen people conquer melancholy to take on new tasks. Humans can apparently adapt to anything. Amazing creativity and energy have animated so many people as they make the choice to stay engaged and productive. Let’s face it, this pandemic can be more challenging for those who have had to reinvent their way of life completely. It may be actually easier for those of us who are in highly regimented phases of life (i.e. parenting young children). I have so much respect for people, especially older people, who create wonderful days for themselves simply by their own will to do so.
My father used to say to me “MAKE a great day”, instead of “HAVE a great day”. He clearly understood that self-reliance beats circumstance every time. And even now at age 88, as horrible dementia steals the very last of his light, he is still trying to make great days in his mind. He thinks he is working, helping people. It seems he thinks he is helping veterans at the VA hospital where he spent his career doing just that, helping veterans. The thought of it makes me cry and laugh simultaneously. He still has the joy of meaningful work! I find it inspiring.
So, I’m going to somehow slow down time a little. I want to savor this season, even with all the uncertainty. There’s plenty of work to go around, so we can keep digging in. Let’s enjoy it. I believe we will have nostalgia for this time period, just as we have nostalgia for every aspect of our pasts, good or bad. This is our time. And after all, right now is the only “now” that we have.