By Di Chapman
Yeah. I admit it. I spent plenty of time on my heinie in 2020. Please tell me you at least spent more time on your keister than you did in 2019. Am I the only soul in the neighborhood who found herself/himself permanently glued anew to a favorite chair? Or, at the very least, to a few more hours of binge TV? And what about the siren call to overdose on your ever-present electronic addictions? You know who you are.
I’ve heard y’all talking excitedly about streaming enticements. Valentines, you have competition. I’ve been lured into the web of my favorite Masterpiece marathons. They have us where they want us, our badonkadonks parked onto “our” territorial sofa cushions and recliners. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Like Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, which is, of course, another marathon favorite. (Interesting factoid: My nephew, a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, was interviewed as part of a group of students by the producers before it began filming. He is now a rocket scientist with SpaceX.)
Sheltering from COVID has driven me from the nine-year monotony of my office to my breakfast table where I’ve parked with a “to-do” list, laptop, tablet, and phone. I have a view overlooking Vickery Creek and the Mill. Good heavens, I have planted myself in the same chair every day at that table, with canyon and trees out the windows.
But back to sitting on my rump. Here’s the thing. I learned significant life-changing attitudes during this off-the-rails, stratospherically, monumentally, mind-clogging, and dastardly year. So, from the ash heap of 2020 my friends, there is good news. There arose positive elements to take forward into the seasons, into my projects and personal life. I learned some great lessons in a really, lousy year. They didn’t require travel or being in crowds. Most of them happened right here sitting on my proverbial rear end. The other times they happened while taking simple treks through beautiful Roswell. Here are a few:
I learned to just BE. In our all-American, hyper-culture, just “being” is not exactly understood. When asked “How are you?” the expected answer is “I’m good, thank you; busy, as usual.” I’m taking time to just BE. I managed to keep my optimism during this deranged year with seasonal treks: I’ve bundled up this winter even with earmuffs that could tune into Mars.
My husband and I walk and watch the squirrels, hawks, owls, and chipmunks, and often gaze at the beautiful deer, with no agenda other than to enjoy the exercise, creatures, pets, and sights along the way. Watch a hawk fly past you and gain some new respect. Listen to the mighty righteous whoosh of an owl’s wings. Uh huh. Watch a squirrel frantically try to decide which direction to go and see where John Belushi got his moves for Animal House. (My husband doesn’t see it. To me it’s obvious.) I stay in the moment. Sound a little weird? I’ve never said I have a full load of bricks.
I’m cool with acceptance. I’ve always been accepting and friendly with people I meet. My father loved meeting people at coffee shop counters, on sales calls, and even hitchhikers (!!!), and enjoyed their life stories. I’ve accepted the year for what it has been, and everyone I know, as they say, “where they are.” We’ve all had twists and turns, confusion, loneliness, and yes, mistakes this year. I’ve made more bonehead mistakes than anybody. Many among us have needed serious tender loving care and someone to listen to. We’ve needed to reach out to them with understanding and acceptance of their difficulties. Get that Valentine’s party started on Zoom!
Then we have our dearly beloved self-absorbed, for whom sheltering and possible infection has been a personal affront. I’ve accepted them all. And I hope I’ve been accepted as well. Heaven knows, I could write Release Your Obnoxious Know-it-All Within: An Autobiography.
I laughed and laughed. My husband and I took time to laugh at the simplest things. We gathered beach chairs with neighbors for impromptu socially distanced dog park and driveway cocktail hours during the year. Our Christmas “gala” was a driveway tailgater martini fest with a neighbor who was a former bartender and his wife. He is now a Ph.D., but expertly shook up every kind of yummy concoction. Martinis made on the tailgate of a pickup. A driveway with beach chairs appropriately separated. These shindigs are keepers. And they could be the perfect Valentine’s event!
I slowed down. Moi? Slowed down? Why? What did we learn this year above all else? This: our lives spun past us like a meteorite. We can only imagine that the years ahead will, too. Let’s slow down and savor them.
I want to share something. My 2021 perspective comes from some profound sadness related to COVID-19. My husband’s mother died in an assisted living home in Arizona in July. Not from the virus itself, but of heartbreak from lack of her children’s physical contact. My sister-in-law there could see her only through a window. We could not travel to see her at all. Telephone calls were no substitute. She died one week before her birthday.
Prior to that a wonderful friend died of the virus in a California hospital.
But we healed and learned to laugh again, and this year, our Valentine’s Day will be celebrated safely here at home with lots of love, humor, and home cookin’.
I’m liking my new perspectives. I hope they’ll stay with me throughout 2021. Especially the laughing. It is, after all, the best medicine. It can be done anytime, anyplace, even sitting in your chair on your derriere.