I spent the last week thinking about going back to Michigan – and realized that along with analyzing the ton of information from infectious disease and pandemic experts, I also need to think about my thinking.
We had been planning on leaving right after Easter, a week from now, but I kept thinking about all the “what ifs” of traveling 1,340 miles by car while the pandemic seems to be getting worse everywhere from here to there. Will hotels be open along the interstate – we got word that friends of a friend were the only couple in a hotel on the way from Texas to Illinois? Do I want to trust that I won’t get infected by staying in a hotel? Can two mid-seventy bodies sleep at a rest stop well enough to be safe driving for the second (or third) day? What are the chances of getting infected when we used toilet facilities and buy gasoline? If we have a medical emergency or accident will we get treated (and do we want to get treated) in an emergency room that is at capacity with COVID-19 patients? What if we are infected when we leave and one or both of us develop a fever and cough while on the rode? Will we be able to continue to share driving when sick or do we spend a week in a hotel room recovering? What if we wait until the end of April or May – the experts are predicting that many places (including Florida) are going to peak about then? Will we be able to leave later if we don’t leave now?
I horded pieces of information in various sections of my brain and worked to put them in a row of logic so I could end with an equal sign and a conclusive decision. When I reached that point I would tell Jim of my decision and see if he concurred. And then I would listen/read some more and start the process again to make sure there wasn’t a fatal (figuratively and real) flaw in my reasoning. I would talk with Jim some more and we would reach a consensus. And then I would… As of today we are staying until the end of April and then make a new decision. A few other couples in our complex are also doing something similar.
Parallel to this decision making process is a voice the breaks through saying, “I want to go home.” Sometimes it threatens tears. Most of the time I look around at the blue sky, palm trees rustling in the breeze, orchids blooming in trees at each end of our lanai, hear birds singing and think, “How can life be any better than what I have in this moment?” What will I gain by “going home?”
This is when I realize I need to do some ‘thinking about my thinking.’ Thinking is like any other skill we learn; we need to practice the skill and continually think about how we can improve our performance.
I realized that “I want to go home” really meant I want to go home to a time when everything was normal and the threats to my well-being and life were pretty much understood as a normal part of aging. I want to go home so I we can go to breakfast at the Wooden Spoon, see my kids, grandkids, and that precious great-granddaughter, have friends over for supper, get together with our card club for a pot-luck and card playing, and go to my favorite fabric shop to buy a few pieces for a couple of new projects. When I think about my thinking in this way, I realize that it is impossible to go home. Not in a way that allows me to go back to the way I left home last October or even early January.
Cleaning up the clutter of my thinking has left me with sadness. I miss so much of the life I used to have. But I don’t have to go down the rabbit hole of believing that my life is ruined, that we don’t deserve this, that everything is lost. That is not good thinking, not based on facts. Yes, our life has changed and our world will be different when we reach the other side of this pandemic. I am curious and look forward to seeing who I am and how we live after going through this crisis. It could be a wonderful chance for our young people to take charge and make our world a better place. But I hope they remember to think about their thinking as they work for a better world.
And let’s keep those rainbow roots watered.
13 thoughts on “Living in the Age of COVID-19: 4/5/20”
I think those of us in a “certain age group” have to give consideration to the what-ifs because it typically makes us proceed with caution. I also have to be cautious since my husband has leukemia (fortunately very slow progressing but he is still considered high risk). My daughters and grands are only 1.5 hours away but it breaks my heart that we can’t see them because they live in the Outer Banks of NC and we live in VA. The Outer Banks has closed to all out of state visitors. I have become quite the fan of technology because it keeps us connected. I even had a follow-up physician appt today via telemedicine. Keep the faith Pat and we will all come out of this stronger and more resilient!
Nora, I can hear that you are struggling with the same feelings I am. I do believe we will do okay, especially if we use our strength and aren’t afraid of facing the changes that builds resilience. So nice that we can do a virtual hand hold. 🙂
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You are wise to stay put. Hunker down. You’ll go home again. 🙂
Tough times, for sure, Pat. Hang in there!
Now you gave me a lot to think about! 🤭🙄😊
Don’t forget to add a little thinking about your thinking – and how much we miss going out on dirt roads. Good to hear from you!
Your post made me think about the stages of grief…grief can be for any loss…so I expect many people in the world will be going through those stages. “The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.” Be well and safe my friend.
Thanks for the additional information to help us through. And thanks for the blessing – I will do my best to be well and safe.
Today, I am noticing sadness. Before today, I wasn’t noticing any particular emotion, probably because I was busy thinking about the people in my care.
Your words about thinking about how I am thinking struck a chord. We need to go through the sadness or what ever emotion we are feeling so we can be present to what we have before us.
Sending love to you and Jim. You are very important people in my life.
I, too, am feeling the deep ache of sadness deep in my heart and just behind my eyes – probably tears that will spill out when the time is right. It gives me comfort to know that you and others are helping those who are overwhelmed by all that is happening. Thank you for your very kind words and I pray that you and Julie are able to stay safe. Please keep me posted if you run into difficulties.
Thanks Pat. I love your blogs, and this one was especially meaningful to me.
It means a lot to me that you are reading my blog and I am so glad this one was meaningful. Please take care to keep yourself safe, Judy.