What I’ve Learned About the World While Being Shut Off From It

What I’ve Learned About the World While Being Shut Off From It.

Under quarantine I’ve gained valuable insight about myself and life in general.  It’s not hard to imagine.  When we’re cut off from life as we know it, we are free to picture a life that could be.  So, here are some things I’ve figured out.

1. You don't need so much stuff.

This became apparent after a couple of weeks of the stay-at-home order. I’d walk into my closet every day and walk out with the same pair of jeans, a t-shirt or sweater, and sneakers. I didn’t put on jewelry or even my wedding ring. Why did I need all these coats and bags and shoes? I wondered if I’d ever need them again. The new, hunkered-down me required only a few staples. Has the fashion industry known this all along?

2. Cooking is fun.

I used to love to cook. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it easier to cut corners and rely on prepared ingredients. Where’s the fun in that? With all the time in the world to put together a dinner, I’ve rediscovered the bliss of chopping up vegetables, rolling out dough and growing an herb garden. I must say, the meals are fantastic. As is the wine I enjoy while preparing them.

3. You can't beat a long walk in the morning.

I’ve never been outdoorsy. But I have come to treasure my daily walks into the nearby downtown and the neighborhoods surrounding it. I could walk forever. I put on my mask when I pass other people or cross the street to give them room. Mostly, I wind up and down sidewalks, taking right or left turns when it suits me. More people are out on the streets now, but no matter how crowded it gets, I know I’ve turned morning walks into a habit. Go early, go often.

4. It's okay to do nothing.

This was a tough one to learn. I always feel I have to be productive, and I often don’t follow my own advice to other older people when I tell them there is nothing wrong with being lazy. You’ve earned the right, I say. But it was ingrained in me as a child to accomplish things. To be competitive and not waste time. Well, I’m not a child anymore. I’ve discovered one of the most appealing ways to spend an afternoon is to binge-watch foreign TV series. My husband and I go into our little den in the back and follow the adventures of French, Icelandic or British cops. I feel like I’m on vacation overseas, with glimpses of European weather, scenery, and buildings. But with added intrigue and excellent acting! This is another habit I will find hard to expunge when I no longer have an excuse to stay home.

5. My husband is my soul mate.

This becomes clear when you are quarantined with each other for months at a time.  Either you and your husband are meant to be together or these weeks alone, just the two of you, have given you pause.  I have no hesitation.  There is no one I’d rather be marooned with than my husband.  He is smart, funny, and not the least bit pretentious.  I kind of knew this when we met in 4th grade.  And I was immediately attracted to him again after we re-connected years later.  Pretty prescient of me to have picked him out six decades ago.  Our isolation, which has become a sanctuary, has reinforced my faith in fate.

Life goes on in our ecosystem even as we’re battered by pathogens.  We ride out these difficulties as best we can.  Before we rush back into the world, though, it wouldn’t hurt to reflect on what we’ve gained by being away from it.