Last fall my days had a fairly enjoyable rhythm to them: I was working from home part time, helping in the middle school library two or three days a week, volunteering with hospice, and I had a regular gym routine.

This year there is only my job. Everything else is either upended or suspended, and I keep thinking how a year ago I probably would have said that I was living a small, repetitive life that was more than a little dull, and what I would not GIVE to have that ho-hum life back.

I’m grateful to be working, for sure. I miss being able to work from coffee shops (specifically, I miss being able to work somewhere, anywhere, other than my living room couch), but I recognize that I am lucky to still have work at all, much less work I actually enjoy at an organization I truly respect.

The gyms are open around here but masks are required during exercise, which feels so unpleasant to me I haven’t been able to stick with it. Instead I’ve been doing things outside or working out from home, which is fine-ish, except we’re heading into the inside-all-the-time season and I’m not working out nearly as much or as hard as a gym class will push me and honestly working out from home is kind of the worst when there is never a single solitary second of having the house to yourself.

I miss helping in the library so much. It was great to feel connected to the school and staff, it was nice to feel like I was providing some value to the overworked library clerk, it was unexpectedly soothing to put away books and dust shelves, it was delightful to chat with the kids.

It’s difficult to imagine when schools will even have in-person libraries again, never mind parent volunteers who are allowed to mingle with students. It’s even harder to imagine when hospice will bring back patient volunteers — I think back to how I would sit, so closely, next to a dying person’s bed, and maybe even touch their hands. How such a visit, even if it were to be allowed, would feel like being a loaded weapon now.

We are all missing things, we are all living different lives than we did a year ago. I realize I am extraordinarily lucky in many ways, but I still have a challenge before me to figure out how to make the most of this new way of life. How to get back into some sort of routine after all these endless weeks of not even knowing what the hell day it is, how to rediscover how I can feel useful, how to be more connected in this isolating and far-apart world we’ve found ourselves in.

Maybe some of it will be temporary, maybe some of it is changed forever, who knows, but I guess I’ve spent 6 months waiting to see what’s next and it’s time to decide what’s next.

Comments

5 Responses to “ISO: purpose”

  1. Kim on September 28th, 2020 4:42 pm

    Our fall and winter is much different here in the Southeast and fall is actually my favorite season, but it’s already noticeably darker in the mornings, my usual time for walking around my school’s campus. I was just worriedly thinking this morning that I have to come up with a solid exercise plan for the upcoming months because my mood takes a real dive without it and then I’m no good for anyone.

    It’s overwhelming to think of what the rest of this year and the near future is going to look like.

  2. Katherine on September 28th, 2020 4:56 pm

    This may not be your thing, and/or may be a challenge in your mixed political household, but the blue campaign folks are begging for people to phone/text bank, write letters/postcards, etc. Might fill that “sense of purpose” void for a short period of time. Indivisible is coordinating some efforts, as well as the Biden campaign. Or Google for whatever flavor of candidate you’d like to help.

  3. Deana on September 29th, 2020 7:31 am

    I make masks and donate them. I know, it is trite and “everyone is doing it” but I started in late March and am in the thousands completed now. It makes me feel like I AM doing something, ANYTHING positive to contribute.

    However, can I just say…every thing I read that disputes mask efficacy drives me up a freaking wall!

    sigh.

    D.

  4. Kelli on September 29th, 2020 9:12 am

    Thank you so much for this post – you articulated so much of what I have been grappling with lately. While I don’t have answers for either of us yet re: purpose, it helped immensely to know across the country someone is feeling the same way that I am.

  5. sooboo on September 29th, 2020 9:52 am

    I was always impressed with your hospice work. I’m sure whatever you decide to bring your bright attention to will benefit from it.

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