For the last week, I’ve been feeling impatient and irritable. Slogging through tourist traffic near our home makes me want to scream. Trying to make dinner reservations to celebrate my husband Michael’s birthday felt like torture when I discovered, after several calls, that our favorite places were all booked – for months. Making decisions made me crazy. An invitation to dinner. A speaking request. What to cook for lunch? Where to buy pots for the deck garden? Whether or not to book travel plans for the holidays?
As my frustration grew, I wondered what was going on when, during a conversation with my friend Beth, it hit me. As tough as the pandemic was, there was an upside: Shutdown provided a vacation from choice-making.
With limited choices, I had fewer decisions to make. With an uncertain future, I couldn’t schedule plans. As everything shut down, it was as though a “closed for business” sign had been hung on my life allowing the space for something new to be born.
Without the luxury of choices, I discovered a different kind of extravagance: Freedom. Freedom from the expectations of others. Freedom to say no because no was often the best way to protect our health. Freedom to create spontaneous, undefined days because I had no choice but to shut down my business and its responsibilities.
New horizons beckoned and I often cooked or cleaned while listening to audiobooks and lectures on the nature of time and reality. I hung out with a small group of friends and walked, hiked, and swam all winter long. I took naps and stared out the window searching for wildlife, or watched clouds floating against the sky.
I felt like a kid again and I loved every carefree minute of it.
Now, as life opens up and we’re able to move about the world, that young girl is scared and, honestly, a little pissed off. She doesn’t like the noise and the busyness that’s creeping into my days. From her perspective, the world is closing in and she’s not happy. The irritation and frustration are energy, the energy of a rebellious teenager kicking and screaming because she refuses to go back to how life used to be.
Bless her heart.
While I feel like the only human being on the planet who’s upset about “unlockdown,” I suspect I’m not alone. It’s time to reorient my life around a new “age-appropriate” self-care standard and honestly, fourteen is looking mighty fine!