”The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates“But enough already!”
So I’m sitting here in my robe for the second day in a row not knowing. Not knowing whether this runny nose and low grade temperature is just a cold or the real thing. I’m very blessed if it is the real thing, because of my mild symptoms, but I don’t know. Even if I take the home Covid test, I still won’t be 100% sure. It’s the not knowing that is driving me crazy. Not knowing whether someone you talk to is asymptomatic. Not knowing if I am mini-symptomatic. Not knowing how your body will respond to it if you do get infected. Not knowing whether or not you will be getting the virus before you get vaccinated. Not knowing how all of the people and their families will be able to survive both economically and emotionally from this disease.
The pandemic has forced us to take the blinders off of our eyes. It’s forced us to evaluate those numbing behaviors like constant distractions and frantically busy schedules that enable us to avoid the big questions like…
*Why are we here? *What is the meaning of life? *When am I going to die? *What happens when I die? *Have I tried to make this life count? * How sick will I be if I get Covid?
I initially called this blog, Wake Up, because these uncomfortable but essential existential questions may actually lead to a deeper, more fulfilling life. Steve Jobs once said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
Very sobering words. Sobering words indeed. Valuable, life-sustaining, serious words. However… I am getting a little tired of facing them with all of this time on my hands. I am usually quite comfortable with solitude and contemplation but I’ve had enough. I am itching to ”get going again, to jump back into the swing of things, and to get back up on the saddle”. There is something to be said about the benefits of having a social schedule. Wouldn’t it be nice to be invited and actually attend a fun and frivolous Christmas party? Wouldn’t it be great to be elbow to elbow with the struggling humanity on Christmas Eve, all competing to get in line to make a purchase? (Never EVER had that desire before) Wouldn’t it be heavenly to be on a crowded plane going to an all-inclusive brimming Caribbean getaway? How about hearing the cheering of the football crowd on an icy winter day?
Forgive me for yammering on. Just a little bored. Life is what you make it. Right? I’m tired of trying to make it… sensible, interesting, stimulating, predictable. That’s the keyword. Predictable. As if I am in control of the situation. At least I had the privilege to live in a developing Arabic country that greatly challenged that view.
I lived for five years in a country led by a monarch. The king had complete authority. His photo was everywhere, from a small leather shop in the labyrinth of an ancient Medina to the newly built, snazzy high-end mall with the three-story aquarium in its center. One Saturday, I decided to head south with my roommate to visit another town along the coast. We instantly noticed that the road was lined with people just standing and sitting around in a relaxed manner. Some had even dragged out their froshes(sofas) to wait along the highway. The closer that we traveled towards our destination, the more populated were the roads. The number of flags had quadrupled and large photos of the king were hoisted and planted at the roundabouts. We stopped at a market and inquired about the event. The king was coming. He was coming from the town which was to be our destination. We traveled on but eventually were asked to stop and park along the side of the road. First, a cavalcade of 25 military vehicles passed us, and then a limousine supposedly transporting the king sped by. The crowd went wild. It was a sight to behold! The crowd had no schedule of when the king would be passing them. They just waited and were comfortable with it because they knew that they had no control of the situation.
America is different. We protect our individual space in which we assume we have control. We are accustomed to expecting things to happen because of our actions and productivity. We don’t rely on someone else to make our decisions. We can do it ourselves and as the most powerful nation on earth, have proven it to the world.
So here I am, a full-fledged but somewhat changed American, sitting in her bathrobe, being frustrated and bored, and not being able to do those things that I would like to do. Not knowing if normalcy, ( whatever that was) will ever return, and not being too happy about it. Just tellin’ the truth. As Mark Knopfler once sang in a Dire Straits’ song, ”Some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug.”
Ann Voskamp: Only the Good Stuff- Multivitamins for the Weekend (12.19.20)