We are only a couple months into the lockdown portion of the 2020 pandemic, but so much has already been profoundly affected, if not altered. I’m at once impressed by how quickly humankind adapted to drastically different and unnatural social norms. It’s a wonder that we have been so forgiving and malleable against an unbending storm. People are strong and beautiful in this way.
If anything, I’ve accepted that life now – more than ever – is about approaching and appreciating its fullness one day at a time. So, I treat my days not as paragraphs or even chapters, but full stories in themselves. I awaken painfully early, I lean into the mundane moments, I wrestle with sleep as it steals my last conscious moments in the evenings. I like to feel every corner of my emotions, I long to suffer and delight in their ephemeral residue. Speaking of longing, I have learned to befriend it. It’s the inertia that pulls me through.
I make the effort. I go to the beach when the window provides, I sift the grains of the sand through my fingers, I stay underwater a half-breath longer. If I have six seconds to spare, I offer it to a few sentences in a book I’m committed to. Yes, I will listen to your band. Yes, this is my new favorite song. I am clear and engaged and I don’t leave the days behind with many regrets anymore.
What is this pandemic if not a time to sit with ourselves? There is a drowning quiet and solitude. Even if we are living with others, this is a lonely time. I have confronted myself on more than one occasion. I’ve studied the mirror. Who is this man?
There are some nominal changes as I’ve entered a new decade. I’m finally starting to show my age after a lifetime of looking 12. My eyes, once puffy and swollen from the salt in the food or the tortured nights are now apparently cast this way forever and that’s okay. My skin is coarse and flecked. Not freckled, but spotted. I kiss my son’s smooth face, clear and pure of imperfections – the fountain of youth. When I smile, my crow’s feet branch halfway down my cheek and tug at my jowls (that part, I like).
Within. I am as impatient as ever, yet somehow oblivious to how long my stories unfurl. I have fewer friends now, but deeper conversations. I don’t chase as much anymore. I let the world come to me. I’ve accepted that I’ll never stop being passionate and zealous about the things and people I care about. I overstep those boundaries without apology. I love wastefully. I am less hopeful now, but more of a romantic. I believe that people can be better, no matter how much they betray me and break me time and again. This is what makes me weak and less than. I am ruled by betrayal.
These are the thoughts I carry with me as I walk back and forth and across. I have never heard myself so loudly. I am listening.