When we set up house this last time, we were very deliberate about creating spaces that made us happy. Obviously we had no idea that home would become synonymous with safety in 2020. Or that home would become her workplace. Or that home would be our yoga space. Or that home would also be my classroom. In fact, home became our everything last March, and a year later, it still is. Little did we know as we rearranged furniture, bringing a table closer to the windows, moving a comfy chair closer to the fire, clearing space for a proper pantry, setting up a painting studio, just how important these spaces would be, or how each object, from lamp to mirror to photo would be called on to evoke bright and warm and much-needed positive emotion. Yet, as I pass through my days, moving from room to room I am swept along in delightful memories and leave each with an easier smile. I have become, although somewhat reluctantly, a contented homebody padding around in slippers and living in a sanctuary.
If there is but one gift that 2020 brought to our small spinning globe, it is a real understanding of the transient nature of life. We have stood witness as industry and commerce and worship and governance and every aspect of our daily existence stalled. Death came calling too. To date COVID-19, something we had never heard of a short year ago, has extinguished 1.97 million lives: from your family to those in Mexico, from Iran to India, from China to the White House, COVID disrupted our every interaction and halted our every routine. Reflecting on 2020, I shudder to think of how much wine I consumed, how rarely I put on leather shoes to go do something professional, instead how many hours I doom-scrolled, fretted or cried or spent angry. Eager to hold onto our fleeting and magnificent lives despite all the restrictions, we retreated into our homes, and over the ensuing months began to read poetry and fiction again, used our phone to call friends, dreamt outlandishly about the future and recalled our best memories fondly, and even created something like love from that swirling ball of fear and chaos and forced void. We found, as Dickinson so aptly wrote, “Hope” is the thing with feathers.
This piece was first published on Sep 10, 2015. I thought it might be time to circle back, plus back to school means back to busy busy for me! If you’re a first time reader, let me know what you think, and if you’re on repeat, well, do the same! xxxooo
Man creates divisions. Labels and categories. Lists of ingredients that make up our individual peace or community discord. Political parties create further divergence and careers choices further separate our education, lifestyles, even viewpoints. Over here are our scientists, heralded as those to solve the unsolvable while the engineers continuously redesign our pathways and roadways and pipelines and even the vehicles that move us; labeling deems some as teachers in a school building while the rest are only students despite the grey lines these labels cross over within the school building. The law abiding stand on one side of the bars and those who transgress reside firmly on the other yet of late we too often must question the validity of each stance. Bound by these allotments we trudge through our dull days. Yet somehow, almost miraculously, living in defiance to every man-made divider are those that challenge the status quo: the artists existing among us. Instead of maintaining practicality and order, their daring shapes and colors mystify emotion and intellect. In an artist’s hands every medium is played with, messed up, combined anew to create a different vantage. For me, lingering in one sorrow, an afternoon to view the old masters to the new ones is like drinking a nutrient rich and satisfying smoothie, lifting me beyond compartmentalizing into a free floating joy.