Slow Down

Photo by Ludvig Hedenborg on

If the pandemic has done nothing else of a positive nature, it has helped me to finally become a patient person. I have actually learned how to wait gracefully and to appreciate people’s efforts in trying to help me get things done. When the people of the world finally began to emerge from our homes in mass, there was a great deal of need to catch up with repairs, health screenings, even travel. I found out rather quickly that everyone seemed to be on the same page and that meant waiting for weeks and even months for things to happen. There was very little instant gratification on the horizon.

The rush for vaccines was the first obstacle that I encountered. I behaved badly that task. When I had difficulty finding an appointment for my jab, I became anxious and at times even angry. My little fits did absolutely nothing to speed up the process, so before long I realized that I simply needed to wait my turn and I too would eventually find an opening for getting the shot. I saw that my turn would come to pass whether or not I stayed calm or pitched a hissy fit. Because I actually angered some long time friends over my initial theatrical panic attacks, I learned how to control my need to be in charge and get quick responses to all of my demands. It turned out the be the best thing that might have ever happened to me. 

I began to empathize with service people who wanted to help me but scheduled repairs weeks and even months from my requests. I assured them that I understood their dilemmas in attempting to fulfill all of the demands for their help. Getting a chimney repaired took three months, but the completed project was perfection. Having a generator installed required a wait of almost a full year, but now I hear it running each Wednesday as the weekly test, and I smile. It was January before our trailer was put back together after an accident in July. Appointments with doctors sometimes took months to procure. Somehow I found myself smiling peacefully and reassuring the people who were apologizing for delays that I was perfectly willing to wait as long as needed. I knew that sooner or later everything would begin to fall into place. 

This new attitude is so contrary to my usual personality. I am a go getter who wants everything set right yesterday. For most of my life waiting has been annoying to me. I tend to take charge of situations before any grass grows under my feet. I’m the kind of person who will work into the early morning hours getting things done and I usually expect others to be as reliable as I am in meeting deadlines. Somehow in the past year I have made a one hundred eighty degree transformation. It’s not important to me to race to the finish line like a rabbit anymore. I’m content to approach life with a casual stroll and support those who need to go even slower than I am moving. I have learned to admire the tortoise.

The world has been through a great trauma that was not caused by any particular humans, but by a microscopic virus. We attacked it with everything we had, but it was a mysterious critter and so we made many false starts along the way. That’s how it usually goes when we are faced with a mystery. We try a bit of this and that hoping that the route we have chosen will be the right one. Along the way we may have to change our course or rethink our hypotheses. It’s all part of anatomy of living in a pandemic. 

I now laugh at ever demanding a set answer, a certain time frame. I know that I can rant all that I want, but the virus and its collateral damage does not and will not march to my drumbeat or that of anyone else. It will do what it is going to do and hopefully we will find tools to deal with the fallout. My response has been to just go with the flow. I expected to have problems re-adjusting, so inflation and gas prices seem to just be part of the process of returning to normal. I adapt to this bump in the road and have no desire to blame any single person. The fact is that the whole world is hurting in one way or another. Why should I be immune to the pain? My mantra these days is, “This too shall pass.”

At the same time I try to find ways of helping those who are really in need. I’ve weathered the Covid storm relatively well. I’ve managed to stay healthy and keep teaching and writing. I’ve enjoyed the quiet times in my home and the precious reunions with family and friends. I use less gasoline by planning my errands strategically and I find myself eating less food and liking the idea that I may get lucky and shed those extra pounds that crept in over the last two years. I try to portion my own good fortune with people who have been brutalized by the pandemic. It’s something that I think would be good for all of us to do rather than complaining and pointing fingers to find scapegoats for all that has happened. 

This should be a time for healing and that process often comes slowly. I learned from an injury to my arm last summer that it would take many months of physical therapy, home exercises and much time before I was once again pain free. So it is with all of the world trying to adjust to the harsh effects of two years of pandemic. It won’t be a quick fix, but it will be a more pleasant process if we approach it with patience and understanding. 

We have a large number of people who deserve our gratitude. There are doctors and nurses and even staff members of hospitals and medical clinics who sacrificed so much for us. We can’t forget the teachers who have dedicated themselves to keeping our children learning under the most difficult conditions imaginable. Now should not be a time to attack such people, but a moment to be profusely thankful that they were willing to carry on while the war with Covid was raging. We can’t forget the folks who kept our grocery stores and service stations running or the owners of restaurants who struggled to stay afloat. It’s time that we stop demanding and accusing and agreed to work on our patience and our consideration. 

We are all tired. We’d do well to just float for a time. There is no hurry. We will reach better days just as the blooms of spring come back at their own pace after the freezes of winter. It feels good for me to have finally and truly learned how to do this. For now I plan to look to the tortoise.


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