We don’t have much time, it only seems like we do. Seems like we have a lifetime. How long is that though?
Usually, we can put these thoughts off as we break our necks to keep up with our calendar. How full is yours?
I go from work to dinner to soccer practice, to event, to bed. Tomorrow, I do it again. Actually, I lied. Sometimes I eat dinner on the way to soccer.
Now we are forced to slow down. It feels wrong because it is wrong. It’s unproductive, unrealistic, and most importantly, it’s un-American.
We don’t like being told what to do. We despise inconvenience. And we absolutely hate feeling unproductive.
Our productivity is part of our identity. It’s where we find meaning. That’s probably why so many of us start a new conversation with, “So what do you DO?”
The importance of that question just doesn’t carry the same weight in the midst of a pandemic. People are dying. Every day we hear of someone else. Someone closer. A friend on the next block has the virus. My children call her Auntie Kim. A Detroit community giant just lost his life to it. He was forty-three, and in good health.
A girl I’ve known since elementary is fighting cancer. A good friend died of a heart-attack recently. We still have all the ways people usually die. Plus another one. None of us are untouchable.
We planned to visit my mom. Now we can’t. In an instant, life as we know it has changed. We have limited access to people. We have real life restrictions on productivity.
My family is home now. I am no longer eating dinner while chauffeuring my boys to soccer. I am taking my lunch breaks to play soccer with them. The games are not going in my favor, and by the halfway point my lungs are baked (“I’ll get you next time” is my new mantra, though we all know it’s probably a lie). We’re also taking walks in the evenings, and reading books together.
Sometimes those things are hard. We’re not perfect parents, and there are some unhelpful patterns in our household. Sometimes voices get raised. We’re working on that.
I’m also working on reaching out to people more.
It’s all perspective. The Coronavirus is reaping havoc. But as long as I’m still alive, I want to actually live. To live well. I want to remember what’s really important.
I want the people around me to know that I love them. I want my kids to remember me for being someone who put his phone away when they spoke. As someone who beamed with wonder and amusement whenever they opened their mouths. I want my wife to feel continually adored. I want my mom to know I love her.
My friends - I want them to know that I appreciate them. That I don’t reach out often enough, but that is changing. Because it should. Because a lot of things should.
I’ve been living at a frantic pace with my eyes narrowed on the American Dream. But I might not live to see it. You might not live to see it. Maybe because of the Coronavirus. Maybe because of cancer, or a heart-attack, or a car accident, or any of the other myriad of ways people die.
Stop for a moment. In spite of our restrictions, some of us still haven’t.
We all get one life.
It’s short. It always was. Now there’s a spotlight on that fact. While you have it, what will you do with yours?