Every year, after the holidays are over and winter settles in for what seems like an eternity, people fight the good winter fight until about Mid-February. Then they get restless and tired of the bitter cold, scraping ice off the car windows at dawn, and navigating around piles of old snow, now blackened and dreary. The hope of Spring, no the yearning for Spring seems palpable, and once it is upon us, we feel energized and liberated. Flowers bloom, the air is fresh, the sun warm. The world seems more open- beckoning us to be a part of it. Remember that song Seasons of Love? It was written and composed by Jonathan Larson in 1996 for Rent, the Broadway musical. The song's lyrics ask us how we quantify the value of a year in our lives.
525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
Neither Mr. Larson, nor any of us, could have predicted in 1996 that measuring a year would become a whole lot more challenging in the year 2020, when our lives were forever altered by the #Coronavirus, a pandemic that ravaged the world, and in doing so, our own little world. Forced into social isolation. Forced out of work. #Quarantined to our homes. Cut off from our family, our friends, our coworkers, our livelihoods, our routines, our way of life. Denied the chance to hold the hand of a loved one, or give them a proper burial -stolen away from us by a relentless, unfathomable, sinister contagion. A time of fear, #anxiety, #depression, #loneliness, uncertainty, and loss, which we have never had to endure on such a global and primitive level.
How do we measure a year now? In case counts? In loss of income? In PPE supplies? In rolls of toilet paper? In days we've spent alone? In shifts at the hospital or patrolling empty streets? In anger at our spouse? In fear of getting sick? For so many of us, the answer is yes, that's how we measure a year in the Coronavirus life. So much of this is out of our control and the lack of control leaves us feeling anxious, hopeless, and depressed.
So what do we do? How can we take some control back? The answer is that there is no one answer- no single antidote. For some, it will be writing. Other's, it will be exercise, or cooking. Some of us will go back to learning how to play the guitar, a goal that had been put on the back burner because life got in the way. What ever it is we choose to do, it will be an action plan. It will replace constant worrying. It will distract from the constant bad news. It will give us back some control. Action alleviates anxiety and depression. Not cure, necessarily, but it will ease the intensity. Think about what is still precious and good, but sits in the background of a landscape of pain and loss. Bring it back to the forefront. You hate homeschooling, but you discovered that your child is a math wiz. Your spouse is on your last nerve, but made a fantastic breakfast for you the other day. Find the ordinary miracles all around that too often go unnoticed. Listen to the music. We can still measure a year in good things. And most importantly, now more than ever, measure in love.