Like so many others in this country (and around the globe), my world these days consists mainly of everything found inside the four walls of the place I call home. Before I committed to self-quarantine (and I don’t mean that in an I-refused-to-take-precautions kind of way, but more in a we-had-a-road-trip-already-planned kind of way), S and I drove to Georgia to pick up a used car. I had already requested time off from work (before knowing that vacation time wouldn’t be necessary…), and the sellers were meeting us in Savannah. We practiced social distancing while we were there, and soon enough we were back home to hole up in our house.
What this means is that I am about 4 days behind everyone on their paths to stir-crazy.
But yesterday as I wandered periodically from room to room between the more productive things I accomplished – coursework for my MBA, dinner preparation, napping – it occurred to me that this, this forced social distancing, is what people have been begging for for years. Clearly not many of us suspected a global pandemic would require us to stop working, stay home, and avoid each other for an indefinite period of time. In fact, had anyone told us even a month ago that we would be forced to sequester ourselves in our homes to prevent a more extensive spreading of a respiratory illness that was quickly crossing the globe, we would have called them kooks!
But how often have you said to yourself you didn’t have time for something. You’ve lamented that you haven’t spent time with your children, your parents, your spouse, your pet. You’ve put off everything from reading to exercising to losing weight to organizing your pantry, for Pete’s sake, claiming “I just don’t have the time!” Well, now you have the time. Time is just about all you have, isn’t it?
When A died, I struggled with coming to terms with the time we wouldn’t have. Even having spent 32 years with the same man wasn’t enough. I wanted more. But I didn’t regret the time we did have. I was fortunate to have worked from home at a time when he was pursuing his dream and we spent every day together, hours on end, for several years.
In retrospect, my son’s junior year of high school was ideal in the regard that he took all his dual enrollment college courses online and when classwork was done, he and A would go out and play basketball. They spent time during the day talking sports and politics and conspiracy theories. My son got a great deal of one-on-one time with A he might not have gotten otherwise. I will be forever grateful for that. My girls got their fair share of time with their father through the years, as well. Certainly more than many young people. And they know their father. Truly know the man he was. That’s something incredible that even his passing can’t take away from them.
I suppose the point of all this rambling is that we all need to take advantage of this forced free time we’ve been “given”. It really can be a gift, if we allow it to be. Handle those chores you’ve been putting off – yesterday I scraped the remnants of some old double-sided tape from the tile that had been there for months after training the cat not to pick at the edge of the carpet. Did you hear that? Months! I’m not proud of that fact, but it was one of those things that I noticed and would say to myself “when I have a bit of free time, I’ll get to it.” It took a small putty scraper and maybe 5 minutes to accomplish. Why had I been putting that off?!
Read that book, watch that movie, put together that jigsaw puzzle. Have game night with your kids. Have a virtual game night with friends. Call that old friend. Call your Mom. Purge your pocketbook. Purge your closet. Learn to knit. Learn a new language. Travel to places you’ve never been; there are a number of websites offering links to virtual tours of museums and zoos, for example. Most importantly, spend time with each other – your children, your spouse, your friends, your family – even if it is only from a distance. You will never regret doing so.
Yesterday, we sat outside and toasted (S with a beer, me with a Moscow Mule) having joined our neighborhood’s “quarantini happy hour” where the participants each sat on their respective porches and raised a glass. It was silly, yet satisfying all the same.
Bottom line is that there are many things you could do with this time you’ve been given. So instead of griping about being “stuck” at home, or stressing about things out of your control such as when you’ll be back to work or when people will stop hoarding toilet paper, try using the gift of time you’ve been given and make the best of things. Do all those things you’ve never had time to do. You’ve got nothing but time these days. Use it wisely; before you know it, you’ll be asking for more again. As for me, I’m using this time to write again.