Summer arrived and our rainy season began with a vengeance. In Florida that means extreme heat, frequent thunder storms, and lightening. Just as our stay at home orders are being relaxed, I find myself spending even more time inside. Trips to the beach for photo outings and sunset visits with friends were short-lived, and my scenic daily run has been reduced to the confinement of my treadmill on most days.
The off season, summer, is typically my time to read, catch up on indoor projects and take things a bit slower. Since we have already been doing that for the past two months the transition will hardly be noticed; except for the heat… and the rain…. and the beginning of hurricane season! Oh well, adjusting seems to be the word of the year, (whether we chose it or not) so, it’s best to just roll with it.
I love how a book can entertain, inspire, challenge our thinking and transport us to another place and time with a little bit of magic and an artful arrangement of words. My favorite genres are historical fiction, mysteries and psychological thrillers, but I will attempt almost anything. Most of what I read is either recommended by a friend, or from a book club list that I trust.
At some point I would like to stop writing about adjusting to life in a world where a deadly virus is among us and get back to sharing my Picture Retirement story. This altered reality is becoming predictable and my attitude has slipped from highly optimistic to complacent with a tinge of dread. In other words, the Bruce Springstein lyrics fit.
Someone once told me that only boring people get bored. He said that clever people think of a way to avoid the condition. Obviously, he had never been isolated at home during a global pandemic. If he had, he might have expressed his thoughts with a little more compassion. I prefer how this Psychology Today article explains boredom.
“When people have low arousal and there is not much happening in the world, then they often feel relaxed. When they have high arousal, though, they have energy they would like to devote to something, but they cannot find anything engaging.”
I fall into the ‘high arousal’ category and just can’t find anything engaging to do with myself right now. Most of what I would like to do has been removed from the list of available choices. I have a lot of little things that create structure, but nothing that is highly motivating or piques an intense interest. I certainly don’t feel ‘relaxed’ most days. I am not anxious, or overly concerned, just somewhat removed as I go through the motions of life.
According to the article, there is another reason why we get bored that makes perfect sense in relation to our current circumstances.
“Boredom often occurs when you have little control over your situation. Waiting rooms, lectures, and airline gates are all places where you have little control over your situation. Normally, we react to unpleasant situations by changing the situation. If you don’t like a book you are reading, for example, you close it and do something else. Boredom happens when you are unable to change the situation.”
I am disciplined about maintaining a schedule and I find joy in every day, but as they say, ‘variety is the spice of life,’ and right now there just isn’t much variety. It is hard to ‘change the situation’ when so much of life is ‘off the table.’
Wake up, have breakfast, do chores, workout, have lunch, read, play games, relax, dinner prep, have dinner, clean up, watch TV, off to bed. That is the sum total of my existence. If it sounds bland it’s because it is.
I have given up trying to incorporate variety into our meals and have narrowed the selection to seven or eight easy to make favorites. Meal time has become more about sustenance and less about dining.
Daily exercise is the only aspect of my life where I continue to make a concerted effort to incorporate variety. If this lasts much longer, even that may fall victim to being mildly tolerable.
It isn’t just me. Malcolm woke up very lethargic a few days ago. When I asked why, he replied, “I’m funked.” I couldn’t suppress a laugh, considering I had never thought of that word as a verb, but it is perfect to describe this feeling of woefulness. Living in a perpetual funk is not acceptable, so what next? How do we get ‘unfunked’?
Starting now, we will get back to basics and repeat how we began this journey – with optimism and enthusiasm. We accept the fact that ‘temporary’ might just mean ‘a very long time’, and restructure our lives accordingly. It’s time to face reality.
How about you guys? Has your original optimism and enthusiasm waned? Are you still coming up with ways to keep daily life interesting. Is accepting life as it is and being patient the best we can do right now?
Is it sadistic to want to see what I am missing by not erasing my calendar entries for the month of May? I can’t bring myself to delete anything, and every day Google reminds me of where I was supposed to be. I could type STAY HOME on every day of the month, but I certainly don’t need a reminder for that. Another alternative is to leave the pages blank and let the days write themselves. This seems the most likely choice, since that is the reality of May.
This was to be a big month for us, with celebrations, a big trip and a tennis championship to play. None of that will happen, at least not as planned.
May At a Glance
2-3 USTA Regional Tennis Championships, Lake Nona
5 Hair Appointment 2:00
7 Happy Birthday to me; Book Club 4:00
8 Tennis 10:00
10 Mother’s Day
11 Tennis 10:00
13 Friend’s Birthday; Tennis 10:00
15 Our Anniversary
18 Tennis 10:00
22 Flight Miami to Vancouver
23 Board cruise ship
31 Flight Vancouver to Calgary
Of these things, the birthday, Mother’s Day and Anniversary will be salvaged to the extent possible, but I will likely never have another opportunity to play a Regional Championship with my awesome teammates. That time has passed.
Malcolm and I were to fly to Vancouver on the 22nd and board a cruise ship to Alaska on the 23rd, followed by a Canadian road trip with visits to Banff and Lake Louise along the way. It seems almost comical to say out loud that there was a time when I thought this trip might be possible. Late May seemed so far away from early February. Joke’s on me! That trip will happen one day, at least the road trip portion, but we will not be so quick to redeem our cruise ship credit.
It Could be Worse
I just received a graduation announcement for my great-nephew, Colton. It saddens me to think of all that he and millions of other students are missing this spring. He worked hard, earned a baseball scholarship to a great college and is an all around nice kid. Missing his ‘moment in the sun’ is a loss that will always be with him.
My paltry calendar entries certainly pale in comparison and I can’t quite imagine what it will feel like to reflect on this time five or even ten years from now – what we lost, what we gained, and most importantly what we learned.
So, here we are, the beginning of May, and for the first time in my adult life, my birthday wish is for the passage of time. I want June to arrive quickly and bring new energy, optimism and hope to a world that desperately needs healing.
We just heard from our local government that our beaches will open (with restrictions) on Monday. Hurray! The plan is to drive out on Thursday afternoon and with a bit of luck we will watch as the sun sets on the first day of my 65th year.
I have been adjusting my morning exercise routine almost daily in an effort to keep boredom at bay. This morning I was jogging through the neighborhood when I saw a friend taking an Iphone photo of a beautiful Magnolia bloom. Sadly, it had escaped my attention until that moment.
I returned with my camera and took this shot, which is quite pretty as it is, but of course I had to play around with it in Photoshop. The result is the version below.
I like both photographs, but this is my favorite. It lends itself to the drama of black and white without being black and white.
What made me smile this week is being reminded that there are opportunities for joyful moments out there, even when we are doing the most mundane things. We just need to be awake to the possibilities.
Shared with Trent’s Weekly Smile. Please visit and add your smile moment. The world is a better place when we take a moment to appreciate and share beauty.