When my mind quiets down from its frenetic processing of news, I am shocked anew at our current state of affairs. At how in one short week my life went from laughing and eating with friends at a newly discovered Harlem agaveria to being locked inside my Jackson Heights apartment with my asthmatic husband, dreading our next grocery run, wearing gloves and masks that make it difficult to breathe, and standing in long lines to gain entry only to find that half the things we need aren’t in stock.
And then my mind is back to its musings, whirring and doing its thing. It’s not lost on me that stay-at-home orders were the answer to so many prayers, wishes, and hopes—just not in the way we had anticipated. It reminds me of that old warning, be careful what you wish for.
- We hated the daily grind of going into the office and wished we could work from home. Wish granted.
- We felt overworked and wished we could have some time off. Wish granted.
- We thought how great it would be if we never had to put on uncomfortable work clothes again. Wish granted.
- We dreaded yet another holiday listening to some boorish relative ramble on and on and wished we could skip it. Wish granted.
- We feared for the earth and the air and wished the skies were bluer and the water cleaner. Wish granted.
- We were frustrated at the crowds of pedestrians and wished the sidewalks would miraculously clear. Wish granted.
- We fantasized how great it would be to open our mailboxes and find a check. Wish granted.
- We wished we had more time to cook dinners or paint pictures or write a novel. Wish granted.
- We hated the pressure on our kids, all the school work and homework—those crazy teachers!—and thought if only we had the time to homeschool them. Wish granted.
You see my point. Wishes made. Wishes granted. And now, new wishes that we could take back the old wishes. Because nothing worked out as hoped. And we’ve lost so much in the process.
But we’ve also gained some valuable wisdom if we just take a moment to see…
Gratitude for what we already have is the foundation of all other healthy pursuits—the place from which we leap off and strive for new things that make sense in our already grateful lives. Without it, we spend our free time desperately dreaming about what we don’t have and making frantic wishes rather than smart plans for changes that bring increased happiness.
Interdependence is the only way we can survive. No one person can do all things. You make your contribution to the world. I make mine. Yours helps me. Mine helps you. Overdependence is a danger. We’ve seen this play out in a global way with our overdependence on China for all the supplies we need during our crisis.
On the other side, the thought that we are rugged individualists is an illusion. Virtually none of us is equipped, nor desire, to live off the land to the exclusion of any symbiotic relationship. So, it’s time we recognize, and fairly pay, the “invisible” people who work at jobs that help us survive and make our lives easier, whether they be grocery store workers, day laborers, farm workers, assembly line workers, restaurant workers, delivery people, warehouse workers, and so many others.
Pausing regularly to reassess our lives is helpful. We may tweak and get back on track or decide to step onto a new path. Now that you’ve had all this time to think, were you happy with life as you were living it? Or had you just become accustomed to the daily grind? Is it time to make some changes?
A new career?
Additional education or training?
Do you want to take more time to smell the roses?
Spend more time with your family and friends?
Get back to nature and plant a garden?
Write a book?
Take up a new sport?
Do you want to move to a new place for a simpler lifestyle?
Have you realized that some of your purchases do not fill you with joy?
Could you live on less and work less by putting your money to better use?
Is there a cause you feel strongly about—fair pay, climate change, environmental issues, immigration, hunger, poverty, education—where you can make a difference?
There are so many possibilities swirling in the air at the moment. Great changes are possible. This experience has been an “a-ha” moment for me. I already know what some of my changes will be when it’s finally safe to leave my home.
What about you?