You have not been on vacation.
Vacation looks like this. You work really hard, you tie up every loose end, you gas up the convertible, flip the top down and drive like Marcello and Sophia through some curvy roads to a secluded and beautiful place where you have a self-imposed period of total relaxation. You eat, sleep, rest, read, write, read books and make love. You forget what a clock looks like, days go by where you don’t care that you have misplaced our watch. The alarm clock is a forbidden instrument, afternoon naps are the norm as early bedtime becomes a perquisite and still you sleep in.
That is a vacation.
And when all of that blissful time has ended, often much sooner than we want it to, we return gleefully to “normal life”. We slip down the highway to regular life and prepare to get “back to normal” re-enter our offices, pick up messages, return emails, have a few laughs and trade stories with our colleagues, plan dinners with friends to share stories and ready ourselves for a wave of work and the routines that fuel us.
This is not that.
This is psychologically a completely different game. We have been under house arrest. We have been told sixteen things to Sunday and it truly seems that not a single person comprehends what is or has gone on.
Some people are not looking others in the eye. Most are coming back to work and within a day or two of attempting to resume a “normal life” are being slapped with the reality that wearing a mask around is mostly an act of political correctness (even the reposts of whether any of this is effective are utterly confusing). People are emerging cautiously and unwilling to openly dialogue or express opinions of what has gone on and how they feel about it.
The psychological effects of isolation, imprisonment, living in martial law and dictatorial decree are a long way from being understood or known. The situation we’ve lived through will have incredible effects on human nature, stress response, human relationships and frankly personal self-worth.
As people emerge from this situation, it’s difficult to predict just how incredibly resilient or how incredibly fragile we have become.
We have changed. We all will have changed and the world too has and will change. Baring another unforeseen event, the very nature of how this whole event unfolded will be examined, studied, fought over and debated for years.
This will be this generation’s “Kennedy assassination.” The big story line that never has a conclusion, creates unanswerable enigmas and baffled and confused public, angered by their impotence or delighted by their obedience.
As I consider what has occurred or what has been perpetrated, I can only grieve.
I do truly grieve for those who lost their lives, whose names we do not know, whose families could not bury them, whose death and burial or burning may not have been as dignified and attended as every human being deserves.
And too, we will actually never know if it was worth it. We can be certain of the fact of not knowing also will leave us divided or reprimanded. Whether lives were or were not saved, that there would have been more of less effort. These are the divisions sewed that now shape us.
In the coming months and years will we become more subdued or sober? Or perhaps defiant or less trusting of others, of governments? Of politicians and our own neighbors? Will we share dirty looks or loving smiles? Warm embraces or somber faces? Intelligent dialogue or factual disinformation?
The “harm” we have experienced in our homes may only just be beginning. Will I be nostalgically writing about how things were in the past three months or how amazing life is with optimism and zeal?
I’m pretty certain it will be the latter. But there is one thing that permeates my whole being right now and that is a sense of gratitude — for life itself, for living beings and living things on our planet, for the opportunity to take this time that has passed, get a better glimpse into a man I’ve wanted to get to know better for the last few years — see how he really thinks and how he feels about things and above all how he can find ways — to love it all, through it all.
I’ve loved having the notion refreshed that we can not predict the future and we can not live in the past. Tomorrow is not yesterday or today. Today — is all we have. This is it. Tomorrow is promised to no one.
Live your life and love your life in your body with all that you have.