No doubt about it — the forced global shutdown we all endured was terrible. Part way through 2020 it felt like we were simultaneously reenacting Mad Max and Little House on the Prairie — so much baking bread. Then came heaps of confusion, grief, and division. But perhaps a promising silver lining was the poignant pause that was forced upon us. Calendars were forcibly cleared, and priorities reexamined.
Here are some lessons learned from the great “pause”.
People matter. As a self professed loner I have often said I just need my two people and I’m good. However after two and a half years of my two people, I’ve come to not only appreciate them so much more, but also realize that these two aren’t going to cut it (no offense to my husband and dog).
Nurturing those connections, friends, family, neighbours; taking the time to stop and actually check in on someone is something that’s become a habit and is so much more fulfilling than a “like” on social media.
Learning to say no. We all had to take a crash course in saying “no” and setting boundaries. With restrictions and laws, I don’t know a single person who didn’t encounter a loved one whose risk tolerance was different than theirs.
We also had to learn that just because our schedules were suddenly wide open as we remained at home, that didn’t mean our time had to be available for others. We experienced Zoom fatigue together, and learned to say, “No, thanks,” and “I can’t make it tonight,” without feeling the need for an excuse.
Learning to say yes. Letting go of expectations and plans was really difficult. But learning how to say yes to spontaneous activities, and long phone calls was unexpectedly nice. Having those spur of the moment instances really filled up my cup.
Slowing down. While seemingly everyone was baking or getting fit, I didn’t master a new skill, or write the great American novel like some folks, but I did find myself slowing down. I did have a newborn to keep me occupied and the slowed-down pace of life let me really experience parenthood and leisure. I would spend hours walking the dog around the city with the baby strapped to me. I enjoyed getting a cookie and people watching off of my balcony. I spent so long watching my baby do ANYTHING, because we knew we wouldn’t be getting any visitors or have any plans. Sometimes it was lonely, boring and monotonous, but there was also a peace that came with slowing down. I know that I’ll never again be this free from events or happenings, but I hope that I’ll still find the time to slow down, to block out the world, and to experience my little life and my family.
Let me state again, that this pandemic was no “blessing in disguise” and hasn’t been amazing for anyone. It’s been hard, and there’s no use denying that. But despite the immense grief, pain, and loss of this year, I hope we can remember what it taught us about pause and how we can still incorporate those few more minutes holding a baby, a conversation with neighbors at the mailbox, an intentional phone call to an old friend, some time spent in reflective silence alone.