This year I planned on traveling abroad for the first time. This year I planned on getting back into the gym and getting into the best physical condition I had ever been in. This year was going to be my best year yet.
But, this year I was sick for a month, this year money was the tightest it had been in a while, and this year the world shut down as COVID-19 began its descent.
I never thought that my job as a grocery store worker would look the way it does today. At first, the gravity of the situation did not hit me. My job is essential in a time of crisis, which means my work schedule has stayed the same. But when there were non-stop lines at the register for over half of the day, I noticed. When there were empty shelves of milk, eggs, and meat, I noticed. And when we started wearing masks, I noticed.
Work has become stressful, but in a different way than one might think. It is emotional. Facing the world and all of its sadness, fear, anger, and boredom, all of these things both from customers and coworkers has been difficult and draining. I have found that people seem to be their most vulnerable when facing the unknown and when there is a sense of no control.
During this time of uncertainty, my hope has been in holding onto time. Or rather the passing of time. Keeping sight of the future but without a plan. Knowing that in time everything passes. But, perhaps the greatest thing I have observed about myself is that learning how to live when time seems to stand still is difficult. We are a culture of forwarding motion, putting one piece of life together then swiftly moving onto the next piece; but now, we have been brought face to face with the life we have worked so hard to create. Busywork has stopped. Distraction has been pulled away from us. Sitting here is all we can do.
At first, I occupied my mind by thinking about everything I could not do at the present or things I wanted to do; but, what about life right now? Isn’t this what I have always wanted? Isn’t this what I work so hard for? If so, then why am I restless? Why can I not stay in this moment? Why am I running from what is in front of me?
I have been forced to look at everything that I have built and created. Everything I have wanted my life to be versus how it is. Through this life-reflection, I have realized that even though I have been restless, I am content. Because when everything is taken away, all of the distractions and experiences, we are left with each other. To me, learning that people are enough, has been both challenging and transforming. In this time, I have been faced with reprioritizing. Finding new things to fulfill my life. And I wonder, are these the real things that life is about? Because when in a crisis, as we choose to love and share kindness, it makes the worry a little less burdensome. It is all we have to do, and all we can be.
This time will go down in history. This is actually happening. So I ask myself, who will I be at the end of it? The woman who wished away the moment of pause? The woman who let her fear make her unhappy and unkind? Or, will I be the woman who took it in and breathed it out with strength and beauty. The woman who realized that the beauty in life is not in the control, but in the letting go of the ideal and the letting in of the present. I choose to be the woman with the will to continue to love and survive. I choose the people, I choose the hope, and I still choose this life.
What will you choose?