There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to in post-quarantine life: eating dinner on a restaurant patio, going to my favorite barre studio for class, meeting with my team in-person, actually hugging my friends and extended family again. But when the governor of Texas recently announced that reopening of services would begin this week, I surprised even myself by having a small jolt of anxiety at the thought of diving headlong back into the busyness of our normal lives.
The packed calendars and regimented schedules that always require me to be somewhere (and often running 5 minutes late)… I realized that a part of me didn’t want to go back.
This quarantine has been a study in contrasts for me. I’m heartbroken for all the illness and suffering in the world right now, worried about my friends who have lost jobs and family members whose companies have been hard hit. I miss my friends and feel anxious about my kids missing out on this much school (’cause let’s be real, they’re only learning so much at home.)
But still. There’s been a steady thrum of joy in our lives at home, an inner whispering that the less-frenzied pace I’ve always said I wanted has now unexpectedly landed in my lap. We’ve had plenty of time for hikes and family soccer matches, jewelry making and so much cooking. Phoebe made peanut butter cookies completely on her own, and she was so proud – and for once, I wasn’t stressing about the giant mess in the kitchen afterwards. The challenges we’ve been having with Henry’s emotional issues miraculously disappeared within the first week of quarantine. Turns out, our boy thrives in a world where we don’t have to interrupt the creation of his massive lego battleship to hurry up and get his shoes on for school.
And now that I’ve had a taste of this slower, more soulful life, I don’t want to give it up. Of course, I know that’s not realistic, and the truth is, I would probably go crazy if told I had to stay home for too much longer. I miss the connection and freedom of being out in the world with others, and I’m so ready for all the struggling businesses to be able to open their doors again. But I’m also pausing to consider what I want to carry with me into post-quarantine life.
I think that what I really want is more margin in my days. More breathing room that allows for real connection with others and for deeper listening that allows me to show up for the people in my life. I want more space in my schedule to slow down and savor the moments, take in the beauty of nature, really taste my food and breathe deeply.
In a recent newsletter, Garance Doré shared how she’d been wrestling with a similar fear, that this whole experience would be for nothing as we all returned to life as usual and tried to forget that COVID-19 ever happened. She had her aha moment when she realized:
“It’s my job to give meaning to what’s happening. No one else will do it for me. It’s my job to decide who I want to be through this. It’s my job to look at what’s going on and decide that there will be a before and an after for me — because I want it. That I will think. That I will learn. That I will make this journey meaningful, because it can’t just be about rushing back into what is.”
Instead of just surviving this experience, I want to allow it to change me. This time at home has me asking questions like, “Have I made myself crazy busy to the point of squeezing out what’s actually important to me? What can I remove from my life that will create this breathing room moving forward? Which relationships do I want to invest in? What do success and happiness really look like for me? How can I simplify my life?”
At the end of the day, what I really want is to soak up life in all its beauty – both the complex things and the simple things. To be in nature every day. To be kind, to have plenty of time for the people I care about. To feel God’s presence in my life. To listen to music, to savor good food, to laugh big and be fully present. To create, and to celebrate the creations of people I love.
I just don’t want to miss any of it.