From “Leaving Normal” a collection of essays
“Peace is not the absence of war, or conflict, but the presence of tranquility, harmony and love.” ~Baruch Spinoza~
I wonder the way everyone wonders…are we nearing a time when we will gather again?
I can’t believe I have not held even one colleague or client in a warm hug, or seen their smiles, inches from me, or heard their laughter outside my door. I can’t believe I haven’t smelled a familiar perfume, or someone’s lunch, or overheard something I just couldn’t help interrupting or jumping in on, uninvited. I can’t believe when last I saw our team, they were standing by the elevator, bundled up, some happy to go, relieved even and some like deer in the head lights, on that cold March 11 day- saying “good-bye, be safe…” and I sat there not moving for a good 15 minutes. Now, I can’t imagine the day I will see them again.
We miss each other the way a family misses each other- but we are finding a new kindness. We don’t cut each other off so much, we miss the fun we made when it was spontaneous, the pizza lunches, the cheering someone on -when it was a good day and the reminder that a bad day is -well-just another day. We miss the camaraderie that comes with the years that some of us have been together. For those who have just joined us, we know they never could have imagined after a few months at a new job, life as it is. But we have all adapted and that is so important.
Out my window here I see very different things than from my office window.
I know every bird, every tree, I have watched as the snow left and the gardens bloomed. I have noticed that it is staying light later, and I awaken at 6:35 every morning, feeling alive and inspired and wonder, how will I matter with the gift of each day? I meditate early, and at night, I pray. I pray for every inequity and loss and for the suffering and joblessness. I never forget it. I fear for those who will go without- and the condition of our city. But, people who have lived in cities that have been bombed, just as we were in 2001, learn just how resilient the human spirit is. I must keep this knowing in my heart.
I haven’t stepped foot in a restaurant, coffee shop, retail store, or a hair or nail salon in over three months but I walk in woods where mine are the only footsteps I hear and wonder when I will hear traffic again- but I don’t miss it. I walk on a carpet of pine needles and notice rocks and roots, and I think about the air I am breathing, how clear it is. And I am grateful. I hear birds instead of the loud, competing conversations of the city, and I am reminded of how with each day, the earth is healing itself and no matter what we think we have given up, we are healing too, in ways we do not know.
I no longer have rushed phone calls. I write long emails and think about things in great depth. Each day gives me purpose, but it’s different now, because they are more precious. My days are fuller with what has meaning.
Today, Memorial Day, my mind wandered to those who have served our country, my husband’s 5 uncles, my grandfather, my uncle, my son’s grandfather. I am reassured that whatever horrors they faced, those who came home to their wives and children even made more children, and carried on. Life went on and will for us, too.
Today I thought about those who were lost in all our wars, and on this new front, giving of themselves and sometimes sacrificing their lives.
Remembering the heroes of this front line, where the enemy does not carry a weapon, it is the weapon, and in honor of those who have served our nation, our people, and our world. We pause. We remember.
We carry on.