Does it feel like your life has stopped in its tracks? Are we living in a suspended reality? It clearly feels like we are living in suspense. What will happen next? I’ve always wanted to take the opportunity to live in the moment—but this doesn’t feel like the golden opportunity it should. As my normal pursuits are suspended, my inconvenience is minimal by comparison to so many others.
I’m currently reading “Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead. I’ll not reveal any spoilers, but I highly recommend this book. Books about race are in vogue right now, and this one should be on your list. I bring it up as it depicts a life interrupted. In Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, the hero, Elwood Curtis, is a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee. His prospects are bright but he is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, where he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. The story is about how he navigates through the challenges while he tries to hold onto hope that he can return to his life and to its positive trajectory when he finishes his term there.
As he plots to stay on the merit based plan for getting out early, my heart goes out to him. I want so badly for him to have a shot at getting his life back.
How many stories out there right now could be written about people caught up in the drama of COVID 19 who feel like their lives are suspended until this episode of illness and suffering ends, or is under better control? How we face the interruption, and what decisions we make when choices are limited will tell our own story, eventually.
I worry about those whose lives have been interrupted….who have limited choices:
- Recent high school graduates wondering if they will be on college campus in the fall, or should consider a gap year, or what will happen if a parents loses his or her job and they need to use the college fund for household expenses?
- Single parents taking care of children, keeping down a job remotely, or out in the world risking their own health in order to keep food on the table. AND, keeping track of elderly parents in a nursing home.
- College or trade school grads who should be in a field of potential recruits to jobs in a dream economy of almost full employment— out of luck, and forced to practice social distancing when they so badly want to spend time with friends.
- Family members waiting for a call from a health care professional to tell them that their loved one is off the ventilator and doing well?
- The doctor who is living in his garage in order to keep his family safe. For how long?
- A teacher facing the unknown of going back to school when her own elementary and middle school children may have different schedules to manage.
How I spend my time in my suspended life is a choice for me, a privilege. I chafe at the obvious necessity of staying in and safe, curbside pickup or delivery for all of my necessities. I use social media to stay as connected as one can by virtual means. I’m very lucky. I grieve for those whose lives have ended. And thankfully, I haven’t experienced waiting on COVID test results for myself or a loved one…yet.
I hope we will be able to return to our lives soon, it’s clear that it will be a totally different world—let’s hope we can make it a better one.