If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that whatever we thought we could – or couldn’t – do, endure, or get used to, we were wrong.
Before this year, I was adamant about teaching all of my writing classes live, in-person. In March, that became an impossibility, and I learned to use a platform that was far from perfect, but which allowed my students to interact with me and each other in a way that was better than nothing… and we actually wound up enjoying it!
Before this year, my husband and I both worked outside the home, and connected on our Farm at the end of the day and on weekends. Since March, we’ve been home together almost every day, having breakfast together, doing our things (he’s working from his office in the workshop; I’m writing at my desk in the mudroom). We enjoy walking together on our Farm, or to visit our neighbor’s farm stand. We’re both healthier and learning how to manage stress.
And before this year, I had only dreamed of having my horse at home, but we made that happen when we found an Amish-built barn that was built off-site and delivered (in very cool fashion!) to our Farm in late November.
Most of my classes, workshops, and camps have been canceled, so I thought I’d have time to finish my memoir and my novel, and was upset with myself when I found it difficult to collect my thoughts and get them down on paper. In corresponding with other writer- and creator-friends, I found I’m not alone: writing and making art while living through a pandemic is terribly difficult. So I’ve learned to be gentle with myself (for the first time in a half-century).
I’ve learned that what was “normal” was simply a state which I had allowed myself to accept. Since March, I’ve learned to be more discriminating about how I spend my time, and with whom; and I don’t waste time arguing, because it costs too much energy and peace.
Finally, I’ve remembered an important lesson from my high school Driver’s Ed class: maintain your lane, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, and maintain vigilance, because only you can keep yourself safe (and even that’s not guaranteed).