Shrinking Worlds

Posted on December 22, 2020

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I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.  Joe Walsh (Life’s Been Good)

It’s then I remember the things I miss the most.  Walter Becker/Donald Fagan (Things I Miss the Most)

I wish you quiet.  I wish you hope.  I wish you miles away from everything that scares you so.  Venice (Middle Age Lullaby)

The neighbors are outside playing pickleball.  I am sitting here writing a blog post.  Normally, I have a standing pickleball game on Tuesday mornings, but my wife and I are quarantining in hopes of seeing our children on Christmas (at least outside).  Just for good measure, we went and got COVID tests too (both negative, of course).  I miss my pickleball game.

Compared to most of the population, the impact to me from this pandemic has been pretty minor.  I live with my best friend so I’m not alone.  We haven’t suffered financial hardships or unemployment from the pandemic.  No immediate family members got COVID.  A few extended family members got COVID, but they have recovered.  None required hospitalization.  I don’t know anyone who has died from it.  Again, compared to many people, the impact to my life is minimal.  Still, I feel the losses and the shrinking of my world. 

In California, the governor has issued a stay at home order.  On the one hand, home is my favorite place to be.  My daughter once observed of me that anytime I leave home I am counting the time until I get to go home again.  On the other hand, there is a lot I miss just in my normal routines.  I miss getting to see my children.  On those occasions where we have gotten together outside, I miss getting to hug them.  I miss going to my gym where there are probably 50 people I know by name (think, Cheers).  I miss greeting friends at church.  I miss the hugs and handshakes.  I even miss shaking hands with clients in greeting.  It stills seems wrong to me to greet someone and not shake hands.  I miss going out to dinner every Friday night.  I miss playing volleyball with friends.  I miss going to concerts and plays.  I miss family gatherings to celebrate birthdays (Zoom is a poor substitute).  I miss getting together with friends.  I miss playing board games.  I realize these are all first world problems, but these losses are still wearying. 

We are past the 9 month mark with this thing.  The vaccines are starting to be administered (which is pretty fast).  Still, it is hard to know when things will return to normal and what the new normal will look like. 

On Sunday, we went to a drive through Nativity at the church.  There was a narration for each station that could be streamed from the church’s website.  We got to wave and shout hello at some friends from a distance.  They did a really nice job with it, but it’s doesn’t feel the same.

When my daughter was an adolescent, she went through a phase of listening to punk and emo.  I put together a mixed CD and called it “Punk Rock for Privileged Suburban Teens.”  I also referred to it as “angry music for people who have nothing to be angry about.”  So far this post is a lament from a man who really has comparatively little to complain about.  Overall, my life is pretty great.  I am ridiculously blessed. 

This year we celebrate (under the strangest of circumstances) the birth of the savior (which also occurred under the strangest of circumstances).  Pandemic or not, this is still really great news.  If you are grieving the shrinking of your world in 2020, you are joined by billions around the planet coping with the hardships of this year.  Humans are made for relationship.  We do miserably in isolation.  We feel the loss of contact with others.  Feeling the impact of this is the normal human experience. 

I wish you a safe, healthy, and blessed Christmas, and a sense of connectedness to others even in this difficult season. 

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