It has been a quiet but strange week. Rainy and gray with a sprinkling of fear and grief. So much change. So much to miss. I am sure most of my East Coast friends could say the same.
What should I do today? I ask myself. Laundry is a life event. Writing, running, these are routines.
I have been feeling a little wonky. There is talk of people making a 10-person circle and being in contact with only those ten. That feels a bit like high school. Who will be left out? Once we do resume our lives, will there be a second wave? When do we go out in public with no concern for social distancing?
Even hiking is cause for concern.
Some people wear masks on the trail. Some people let their dogs approach. There are now reports of pets getting COVID-19. Do I possibly transmit or receive the virus if I pet Fido?
I fight fear.
Yesterday, I went outside to turn my head around. It is as good as a 2-mile run. I have a favorite trail that goes along a beautiful ridge overlooking a number of ponds, marshes and crosses the top of a local ski slope. I went the full 5.5 miles, then turned and hiked the 5.5 back to my car.
I needed to feel alive in the world. At one point, I took off my shoes and socks. A shaman told me to feel the mud, the essence of our being, to really connect. It felt good on my feet.
Today, I had hoped to do another hike, but when I stepped outside I changed my mind and pulled out the kayak.
I paddled over to my girlfriend across the lake. She has written and counsels on grief. We caught up, she on a deck chair, me in the water.
She recalled a time when she was presenting to a group of chaplains in training, one asked, “Isn’t everything loss?” We chuckled. Yes, life itself is a march towards demise. We like to live as if it is not.
I am reminded of a quote from her, “Each time we say yes to our fears and vulnerabilities, we move closer to our hopes and strengths.” The ying and yang of life. Fears and hopes. We all ride these waves, up and down.
As I pushed away, heading towards a swan’s nest she had mentioned, I glanced down at my trusty kayak. I remembered this is a gift, I said to myself, thank you.
You may remember how I got my kayak, if not you can read about it here https://catstrav.com/2020/01/11/101/
Every thing is a gift. Every single little thing. The air we breathe. The water I floated on. The friendships that have sustained and continue to sustain. None of it is guaranteed. None.
Not just the kayak, my mind continued, a friend (a writer friend at that!) on the lake, this beautiful day, the fact that I can take a week off and still eat. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I repeated as I paddled.
This very life.
The conversation continued in my head.
Really? Then, what about COVID-19? Is that a gift?
There have been more than 2,000 deaths in CT, sixty-six in my county. The number of confirmed cases has dropped in the past few days, but people are fighting in public about wearing a mask, and Home Depot has an employee out front declining those who refuse to wear one from entering. Police have been called a number of times I was told.
How could this be a gift?
As I pulled my kayak up on dry ground I caught another neighbor. She and the Hubs were getting onto their boat, just to sit in the sun. I sat in their backyard so we could catch up.
Do you think we will go out again like we used to, without a second thought? Don’t you think things will change?
“Oh, Cat, ” she said, “if we get a little more patient and a little more kind from all of this, it would be a good thing.”
Yes, something good may come.
My assignment (somedays you might refer to it as Mission Impossible) is to remain grateful for all of it. The good and the bad. The sun and the rain. The loves and the losses.
Both add up to a life.