Looking back to January and the plans we made and the dreams we had of greater financial success, or a new job, or a new field of study, it seems a lifetime ago and a different world — because it was.
Americans were considered to be some of the most overworked and under-slept people on the planet. And while Europeans took several weeks of vacation and some areas abroad seemed to shut down the entire month of August, Americans rarely took two weeks of vacation together. It seems we were putting off a true sense of relaxation, the opportunity to exhale — for “someday.” Well, for most of us, just a few months ago that “someday” has been foisted upon us in ways we could not have imagined. And regardless of how many people want to re-open the economy no matter what the cost in lives and human suffering, the end is not in sight anytime soon.
Lots of time on our hands, when used in positive ways, can yield changes we never thought we’d make, changes we didn’t even dream of because dreams and developing a greater vision take time — and prior to mid-March, Americans didn’t have time.
We were running so fast and so hard we never gave a thought to the fact that there might be another way or that some people in prosperous lands demand a greater quality of life that “stuff” just can’t buy — only time can.
Whoever thought that in the mere blink of an eye we’d be forced to shut down, stay in, respect the importance of physical distancing, lose the ability to dine in our local restaurants or rub elbows with friends and strangers at our favorite bar? Who could have imagined our current reality, a reality that many the world over are experiencing? There’s really no place we can run even if we dared to travel by air where on some flights passengers are still being packed in three seats to a row.
And while we need to be concerned about keeping a roof over our head and food on our table, working from home or planning our next steps to secure employment after society opens up a bit can still leave new “pockets of time” we may not be used to. But there’s an opportunity in that.
The first thing you might consider is getting caught up on your sleep and lowering your caffeine just a bit. Once you get the sleep you really need you’ll find that adequate sleep feels far better than being jacked up on excess caffeine. And if you get more sleep several days in a row you may marvel at who you find yourself to be — more energetic with greater mental clarity, perhaps seeing things in your surroundings for the first time.
Before you go off and make that “To-Do List” similar to your New Year’s Resolutions (and you know how well that works out), take this unusual interlude to stop, slow down, and don’t just “think” — contemplate. See what surfaces — and if it seems downright inspirational, write it down.
This pandemic was a terrible way to find ourselves with enforced downtime. But if that downtime turns into a more rested, reflective, kind, and creative populace all this tragedy and loss will not have been for nothing.
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