My writing muscle has refused to flex for the last couple of weeks. I feel spurts of inspiration while I’m walking Marley in the morning, but by the time we get home where I could get things down, either my ideas become ghosts, indistinct and fleeting, or I am rushing to get ready for a day of teaching. I recognize my foe well; stress and anxiety, the plagues that never seem to roam far away for long, sapping my creativity and my peace.
I entered a false sense of calm and serenity about a third of the way through the extended holiday break between semesters. Oh, there was still plenty of work to be done, but I lulled myself into thinking that surely with all of the time I had to recharge that I would regain Super Woman status with no problem, that return to being so busy and productive that it’s difficult to feel anything. The great medicinal numbing of purpose.
In normal times that plan may have had success, but these aren’t normal times, are they? The cloud of fear that hangs over us with Covid, the stress of incredibly divisive politics, along with being isolated from the normal activities of life and career have placed us all in this surreal existence where every day feels like waking up to the same dream, one that never changes.
I am teaching from home until we are vaccinated, a decision that left me feeling both guilty and relieved. So many people have no choice; they have to face the risk of exposure to make a living. I miss doing my job in person, but even when I’m able to be with my students face to face, we have to be shrouded with masks and instrument bags, making the experience stressful for both student and teacher. I am grateful to be home, though, as I have been so afraid of bringing the virus home to Dan again, to the man who was just prescribed an inhaler because of damage to his lungs from his experience with Covid last April.
Every day, Dan and I rise with the sun. I head out with Marley for three miles or more, maybe kickbox, shower, dress in nice clothes, put on a bit of makeup, trade my slippers for real shoes and jewelry; anything to make me look like the professional I am- that woman who I feel like a shadow of right now. We have lunch, we work more, we have a quiet evening before turning in for the night. Instead of performing, traveling around the world to make music, instead of seeing my students’ and colleagues’ smiling faces in person, I live in the world of Zoom and email. I feel separated from a life full of purpose and activity, feeling like a part of me is missing, my musician self dormant until some magical day when we return to some version of normal. God knows when that will be.
We are all in this limbo, this strange place in history and time. I am grateful for the cocoon of peace that is home, but I know the time will come someday where this is all a faint memory, one where we’ll tell our grandchildren about the plague that visited upon the world and changed everything. A plague that marked us indelibly. What will we tell them? Stories of hardship? Stories of resilience?
I hope to come out on the other side of this experience better somehow; a better, more compassionate human being, a better teacher, a better friend and wife. I’m struggling to find the way except to put one foot in front of the other and soldier on. I feel fear of the virus and yet, in all honesty, I also fear of a return to normal. I’m becoming a hermit, content to live in my little bubble of peace with Dan and the animals at Chez Gainey, connecting with the world through technology. A broken connection, though, missing the complete picture of human interaction. A loss for all of us.
For now I’m doing my best to stay positive, to keep to my daily routine, to be careful and safe, and to look forward to everyone getting the vaccine so that we can all move forward to whatever our next step as a human race is. I know it will take time, such a precious commodity these days as we lose loved ones and friends and strangers by the heartbreaking thousands. However and whenever change comes, all I know is that I’ll do my damndest to be ready for whatever the next chapter will bring. We are all being changed by this experience; may it make us softer, more empathetic, more loving, instead of jaded and hardened.
7 thoughts on “On Zooming through Life”
You know, one thing we can come out of this with is acceptance that we don’t have Super Powers, that we are just people, with limits, doing our best to live in the times and conditions we have. The love you share with all those in your sphere is transformative and so much more than enough, so accepting limits, slowing down a bit, and realizing that just living through these times, hard as they are, is a way to share some of that same love with yourself.
Thank you, Cathy. ❤️ I think you are so right; learning to slow down a bit may be one of the best lessons of this time.
All you’ve written could be applied to most people. We are changed. Whether it is for the better, time will tell. In the interim we should try to enjoy the little moments of wonder and beauty and all the love we can gather.
I completely agree. ❤️
Hi, it’s Lydia here. Your husband’s story reminded me that long Covid wasn’t that bad back in April when I developed symptoms (the fatigue lasted until July). What a great photo of him leaving the hospital, a survivor.
It’s such a shame that Dan has lung damage, but I’m glad he gets relief with the inhaler.
I’m glad you can work from home. Long Covid was a strange experience and it seems to have possibly triggered an autoimmune condition, so they’re currently working out what medication dose I need. I’m hopeful that they’ve now got the dose right and that’ll be confirmed soon. I’ve written about both conditions on my blog of course, it helped me process what was a really strange journey when I was rarely ill before.
I’m sorry to hear you’ve been suffering with stress and anxiety. This is so common, especially now. When I was finally healthy again in December (before an autoimmune relapse last month) I was in a good headspace and I wrote the below piece to help me focus on the positives of lockdown. I hope you find it helpful.
Thank you so much, Lydia. I’m sorry that you dealt with long Covid, too. I appreciate your posts and will look forward to reading them. I hope that you are able to get relief from the medication soon.
Thank you 🙂