By Jonathan Seaward
Today began like almost every other day has, for the past month and a half, for a lot of people in Seattle, Washington. It could have been a Wednesday or a Sunday – I wouldn’t have known the difference. Kids are not in school; they fly through their fortnightly class-work packets in a marathon run, finishing in a day or two, so they can be “on vacation” the rest of the time. I am not heading to the office, as I’ve been laid off, due to the closure of many of my clients’ businesses, which, in turn, has my former employer on the verge of collapse. Once or twice a week, they call on me to do some work for them, from home, and pay me as a subcontractor. My wife is working remotely as well, but starts later in the day. My only clue as to what day it might be are her Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings, which only occur Monday through Friday.
For now, it’s just another day, blended in with the day before it, and the day after, like details in an impressionist painting, blurry and indistinct, yet part of a cohesive theme – the end of life as we know it, or so it seems to me.
As usual, my thoughts rush to the worst-case-scenario: What if my thoughtless neighbor, who kept inching closer to me yesterday, while speaking and laughing loudly (without a face mask!) unknowingly passed SARS-CoV-2 to me, and I end up with COVID-19? My ongoing issues with blood clots (stubbornly resisting the anticoagulants), and the irregular heartbeat I was born with put me in a category they call “High Risk”, and I call “Dead Man Walking”. So the tightness in my chest this morning, and the body aches I’m feeling, have driven my anxiety levels to new heights.
My kids have been begging to go for a walk for days, and I’ve been hesitant. After all, where would we walk? The parks are closed, the sidewalks are likely teeming with SARS-CoV-2, and my gas mask hasn’t arrived from AliExpress, yet.
My son, 10 years old, reminds me that there’s a little trail behind the duplex opposite ours, leading down to a stream, and ending up near the police station at the bottom of the hill we live on. My daughter, who just turned 8 at the start of all this, is a ball of energy as usual, constantly in motion, hopping from one leg to the other, while joining my son in begging me to walk with them. How could I say no?
We ventured out of the house, and across the road, slipping between the two units opposite ours, to access the trail.
What I found today was more than a trail and what I experienced was more than some exercise – I found peace, and I experienced joy. I would even say I found God again, as I let go of my anxiety and started living in the moment.
I already have a (sometimes overwhelming) need to know “what’s next”, and since I was a toddler, I don’t remember a time I wasn’t thinking of the future, of next year. Next stage. Next struggle. I’ve wasted countless days hovering somewhere other than here and now.
And suddenly, in the middle of a pandemic, knowing that I would have a 30% chance of surviving, at best, if infected (according to the doctors), I am experiencing something so very rare in my life, that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced it before – I am here, now, and don’t have the slightest regard for what may or may not happen tomorrow.
Maybe it’s a combination of having been laid off, thereby not having any meetings or projects with deadlines, and being in nature with my kids — and, well, I was going to analyze the whole thing, as I often do, but again, that would be living outside the moment, and for now, I am enjoying this new perspective on life.
Taking it one moment at a time.