You know how late December is always so disorienting? With the changes in routines, and food, and travel, and weird work schedules, and afternoon sunsets, it’s an odd limbo even in precedented times. Add in wave after wave of covid, and it seems like living in limbo is the new routine.
On top of that, I have my own surge of changes ahead, so I feel like I’m living in a sci-fi movie’s broken space-time continuum (or, for fans of The Good Place, on the dot of Jeremy Bearimy). I not only struggle to know what day (or year) it is, I also wonder what time I should be counting: Am I counting down? Counting up? Does “up” mean forward or back in time? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was asking these questions as a 20-year-old (in, ahem, a slightly mind-altered state)?
I’m leaving my full-time job of 30+ years at the end of January. Each day my head and heart are a swirl of nostalgia, immediate pressures (I’m a little overwhelmed by the 10,000 emails to sift through), January wrap-up plans, February plans (spoiler: DO NOTHING), and all the possibilities for my future. During a pandemic. During the holidays. While Mother Earth demands our attention in increasingly desperate and dramatic ways.
Here’s how I’m trying to stay (vaguely) grounded in the present moment.
We have very few social events this year, we’re not travelling, and we’re keeping gifts to a fun few. We’re saving up any cravings for excess to blow it all going wild with our Brunchapalooza – started last year to make up for no family visits or meals, and involving, well, pretty much what you’d expect a celebratory brunch feast to include. The less going on around me, the easier I find it to pause, notice, and savour.
Where I Can’t Minimize, I Focus
My usual strategies for pacing my work out over time aren’t effective when I have such a finite deadline. I have to pick a priority (easier to do when I’ve done my minimizing and have clarity about what truly needs to be done) and then pretend nothing else in the world exists while I work on it. For me, a clear workspace, clear computer desktop and well-fed cats are the secrets to tuning out the chaos. When my mind and eyes see only the one thing in front of me, there is no Jeremy Bearimy, no broken timeline swirling.
Planning Nostalgia Time
I have to do health and safety inspections at my workplace, and honestly, the building is immaculate so there’s time for reflection. When doing this walk through recently with a colleague who was also retiring, we took the time to remember our decades of history there. Saying goodbyes to places and memories and emotions seems to free them, lift them away from being background noise in my head.
This is hard to do, making me realize how important it is. I love the analogue world – I can read, write, hike, dance, meditate, stretch, tidy and do puzzles so happily – but I forget. I feel the pull of google, twitter, texting, email, news, and Jorts the cat, but every single time I turn it all off for a day, my entire being feels grounded and calm. Every time.
Having All the Time in the World for People
Lockdowns and working from home gave me the bittersweet chance to really miss people. I enjoy people and I enjoy being alone and wow did the balance skew too far even for the loner in me. I am relishing my interactions, especially the rare in-person ones, and to truly appreciate each bit of time with people, I give them my all. Undivided attention = infinite time.
Living in limbo is disorienting, and my excitement about my unpredictable future is happy but tiring. The place I find stillness is whatever dot of time I’m in at the moment, letting the twists ahead and behind fade out of focus. My potato of a cat is snoring, the bit of snow on the ground matches the grey-white sky, and my coffee is hot. All that’s missing is you, my friends. I hope you’re warm and well while we share this moment. ❤️