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The Deepening

I have, for some reason, fallen into a bit of a rut. It can – it does – happen to all of us in life at some point or another; likely more than once in fact. Sometimes it is you and sometimes it is just the flow of life at that moment in time. Much like a stream, there are sections that have a profound elevation drop that serves to accelerate the flow of the water, while a obstruction in the actual channel itself, such as a fallen tree, serves to slow the flow. But similarly, a rapid widening or deepening of the channel can also decrease the speed of flow due to the increased volume. Sometimes we place the log in our stream and sometimes life just opens up the channel and slows the flow.

I am not complaining – at all. I remain deeply content with retirement as I approach two and a half years of it. I am a little discontent with life in this pandemic. At this time last year cases were down, stay at home was over, restaurants were opening, and we were hearing about the promise of a vaccine – the golden key to our freedom. Now, fully vaccinated I am told I need a mask again, that I can still catch COVID (although not as severely), and that I can still spread it. What the heck? I feel as if I was sold a bill of goods.

A dear friend of over 45 years recently celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary and invited us to join them in the celebration. Because it was indoors, and because we have a 7-week-old baby that my wife helps care for almost every day, she felt completely unsafe going; we did not attend. Had to forego a once in a lifetime event for a friend, despite all of being vaccinated.

The new James Bond movie premiers in less than a month after the release having been delayed for well over a year due to the pandemic. When the original date was approaching, I was depressed because I knew I could not go see it due to the pandemic. But when they delayed it to Fall 2021, I was ecstatic because I knew I’d be vaccinated by then and able to go. But now my reality is that I will not – I will miss this movie release and will have to wait for it to turn up on TV.

Like all of us, I am tired of this pandemic. We had just started to go out to eat again (actually got out for breakfast once) and now unless they offer outdoor seating, we are not going out to eat anymore. And this constant anchor around each of our necks is having a severe and devastating affect upon all of us. We have been under siege for coming up on two years now and our patience, our tolerance, and our empathy have been worn, battered, and eroded. We are impatient, intolerant, and less caring than we were two years ago.

Now, couple that with the daily stream of divisiveness we all face in the news: the “anti-vaxxers”, the mask mandate debates (now becoming physical assaults in some places), and the constant name calling of one side to the other (regardless of the specific subject being argued) and it is no wonder that we are spent, done, and ready for the trash pile!

I think, in fact I know, that many of us know this and try so very hard every day to combat it, to fight off the effects. There are countless posts on social media exhorting us to seize the day, to be thankful for the moment, to spread love and caring to others. We know we’re running on empty and are trying to stave it off. But it is hard – terribly difficult – to ignore all this and be happy. Because life has not stopped dishing out disappointments to each of us; life is filled with good and bad, joy and sorrow, excitement and disappointment; that is the balance of nature. And certainly, the advent of the pandemic immediately went into the bad, the sorrowful, and the disappointing category. But life, as altered as it may have been for each of is, continued. As did the ups and downs that it brings. Perhaps if all life brought us were good things through the pandemic, we’d not be where we are as a society. There’d have been some balance on a grander scale.

Of course, that did not happen. Life continued to deliver the bad with the good; there was no tempering due to the pandemic. So, the end result is all of us dealing with all the crap we normally deal with – and a pandemic on top of it! Well, there’s your problem! (Thank you Captain Obvious!) But we humans – bags of “thinking” water briefly supported by fragile accumulations of calcium – are steeply indomitable. We “soldier on” despite the pain and adversity facing us. Certainly that can take a toll, but that is just one more of the scars of life we all invisibly bear. And even if we are blessed and are less severely impacted by this pandemic, it still tends to slow the flow of our personal streams and eventually, that becomes noticeable. And we end up feeling a bit “stuck”, as am I currently.

I already mentioned the forthcoming Bond movie that I will almost certainly miss. But I did not mention what troubles me even more: Halloween. As you likely well know dear reader, my annual family Halloween party is a really big deal to me. I did manage one last year, but it was deeply diminished thanks to our friend COVID. It was really just my grandkids. When I asked our oldest grandson what he thought about last year’s party, his comment was an immediate “boring” coupled with a tortured grimace. OK – don’t hold back or anything….hehehe. But he is right – as hard as I tried to make it special, without cousins and friends it was dismally boring. Just another night at mum-mum’s and papa’s. And I desperately do not want that this year. But I fear it may well be the case, thanks – once again – to this interminable virus.

None the less, I will persevere. I’ve already taken us all on our first pilgrimage to the Spirit of Halloween store where we spent well over $200 for our Halloween kick-off. And I have already bought several new decorations online that the grandkids know nothing about – including a surprise animatronic. But if we can’t have any other kids aside from our immediate grandkids, then sadly it will be another boring Halloween for them. But as they say, hope springs eternal and I will make every possible effort to make it a memorable Halloween. What else can one do?

Speaking of doing: how to escape your personal rut? Well, there is no one answer for all. To begin though, acknowledge where you are; your stream has slowed and you are lazily floating around in a pool with little or no forward motion. Take a moment to enjoy the peace, the lack of the full-speed rush of life. Bask in the quiet for a little bit – reflect in the still waters. Make small self-improvements – to yourself or your home/yard.

But next, if your stream isn’t moving you, move yourself. Change things up a bit: get out to someplace new. My number one recommendation is nature: a deserted beach, a pond, a lake, a stream, the woods, a meadow. Even if you don’t ordinarily like “the great outdoors” give it a shot: go to a park, an Audubon Society area, a Nature Conservatory preserve, or the like. You’ll find the quiet, the peace, the solitude, and especially the lack of incessant negativity that flows into our lives daily on the news and social media. You’ll thank me for this if you’ve never tried it. Stay well dear reader!!

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