by Kathy Grinsteiner, 05/19/2020, Kingsley, MI

Adult Category

I sat out on my deck the morning after. Not the morning after learning that COVID-19 had hit our shores. Not the morning after the Stay Home Stay Safe order was put in place. It was the morning after it was announced that the order would be partially lifted in our region.

I watched as the birds and rabbits scurried about, oblivious to all that was going on in the world. I was fully present in that moment, and I realized how rare that was for me. While so many others were giddy with anticipation about life getting back to “normal”, I was struck with a profound, and unexpected, sense of loss.

I am admittedly a social junkie. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) has been my guiding force. Proud to be an extrovert, I had been living my life at warp speed. I had a fulfilling job with many hours spent behind the steering wheel, non-profit work, social networking, and weekends filled with family and friends. By all accounts, my life was full.

These last nine weeks have changed me in unexpected ways. Having taken great pride in being a participant in all that life had to offer, I found myself in unchartered, but tranquil, waters as an observer.

In the early days of the lockdown, I would go on hikes to get away from the dining room table that had become my workspace. Walking through the woods, I would think about the virtual meeting I just had or the one coming next. My mind would wander to everything and everyone I was missing. I wondered how many steps I had yet to take before the hike was over.

As time went on, hiking through the Brown Bridge Quiet Area has become one of my favorite things to do. I have started to see, really see, the beauty that surrounds me. The way the river flows effortlessly, the arch of the trees as they sway in the wind, the warmth of the sun on my face. Time stands still as my husband and I stop to rest at the bridge over the water.

In my pre-quarantine world, as much as I enjoyed cooking, it had come to feel like a chore. I resented the guilt I couldn’t shake when I put throw-together meals on the table. The pressure it added to my already busy life created a stress I refused to even acknowledge. Finding a renewed love of cooking, I now realize just how much I show love to others through food. It became clear that the guilt I had been feeling was because I was not prioritizing those most important to me.

My husband has always been very patient and supportive of all my endeavors, but I now realize that he had been getting what was left of me, the scraps, after I had doled out most of the pieces of myself to others. At least that’s what I told myself I was doing, giving to others. In fact, I was selfishly “doing me”.

While I had always been in the fray, openly and proudly expressing my opinions, lately I have become more curious and watchful. Through this time, I have come to understand that negative behaviors are often the manifestation of feelings of uncertainty and fear. That realization has given me more peace, calmness, and empathy.

As the doors start to creak open and we peek around the corner to see if it is safe to come out, there is a part of me that isn’t ready. I’m still trying to unwrap this gift and figure it all out. I realize though that I have the power. It is a choice to be present in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures of observing life with a view.