There is one thing about this terrible pandemic that has surprised me. Isolation has taught me more about myself in one year than I learned in a decade or more. Looking at that objectively, it is not such a bad thing. And it is something I needed to do, although I did not realize it. What did I discover on this unplanned journey?
- I am stronger than I thought. I am weaker than I want to be.
- I have fewer real friends than I thought I had. I am not as good a friend as I thought I was.
- I have more Faith than I thought I had. I am not as optimistic as I used to be.
- I know more about some things than I thought I did. I know almost nothing about so many things.
- I am less concerned about what others think of me. I am more concerned about holding fast to my values.
- I laugh even when I am sad. I want to be able to laugh no matter how tough things get.
- I have the capacity to love. I do not have enough love in my life.
- I am keenly aware that my time on this Earth is growing shorter. I worry that I am not making the most of the time I have left.
- I am a mass of contradictions, untested theories, likely scenarios and worst possible cases. I am, when I remember to take a breath and give myself a break — simply human.
- I believe, on good days, there is still time to be better and do better.
- I BELIEVE I CAN STILL BELIEVE.
A friend of mine reminded me of the famous dictum uttered by Socrates — “The unexamined life is not worth living.” A memorable quote to be sure. But is it enough to simply recognize those things? I do not think so. Which brings me to the next part of the journey. Where do I go from here?
I have just been vaccinated and listen to the various experts discuss what this means in terms of resuming a “normal life.” Such a ridiculous notion! What is normal for one person is not necessarily normal for another. I am a Solo Ager. I did not miss those things many people yearn for — the family get togethers or hugs from grandchildren. Health issues prevent me from resuming exciting travel and other activities I used to enjoy.
The real question is “how will I live now?”
Given the lessons COVID has taught me, will I do anything differently? Will I be a better friend? Make better use of my time? Seek out opportunities for personal growth? Open my heart to the potential for love? Or am I set in my ways? Afraid or unwilling to modify my behavior?
The only thing I can tell you now is, talk to me next year.
Carole Leskin is a retired Director of Global Human Resources. Embarking on a second career as a writer and photographer concentrating on her personal accounts of aging, her essays and poetry, frequently accompanied by her photos, are published in Jewish Sacred Aging, Jewish Women of Words, Starts At 60, Navigating Aging ( a Kaiser Health publication), Women’s Older Wisdom, Time Goes By and Next Avenue. Her poems, “Father Time” and “Carole’s Debate” were selected for inclusion in the 2019 anthologies of poetry, New Jersey Bards. Her photos have been featured in Mart R Porter Nature Forum.