Funny. Every year for the past decade, I’ve looked forward to Summer Holidays. I’m a teacher. I’ve been working with students for the most part of my Life, and it’s what fuels me and allows my family and I to experience a comfortable and dependable living. What people forget about our profession is that to ‘become’ a teacher, one needs to educate herself for many years, take extra courses and stay up to date about the science of it all. Which, in essence, means that I have been continuously in school for 46 years of my Life. I have never had the chance nor the opportunity to experience anything else. I’m not complaining – just stating the fact that it is A FACT. I was brought up by an incredibly intelligent woman who came from a long line of teachers, and it was always expected that this is what I would end up doing. Truth be told, it wasn’t my dream. It wasn’t my choice. I don’t think I ever ‘chose’ to be a teacher – but what happened is that Dame Universe reminded me that somewhere in time and distance, I had signed the agreement that I would. For those wondering, it worked out – and I am so glad it did. Because of this incredible opportunity I have met people who have become MY teacher, and through life experiences I have become a more resilient individual.
I digress. Of course.
In pre-pandemic times, as I looked forward to Summer Holidays, I also very much looked forward to our family trips. We usually pack up , get on an airplane and experience the Canadian Rockies. Sometimes I add a few days in Paris … le soupir. It’s a time away from our ‘routine’ – not that we are unfortunate in our existence – on the contrary. We leave as a family to bond, laugh, read, sleep and be together . When we return home, we are even more grateful for living where we do. We reconnect with our fur babies, I water my plants and I feel whole again. But this year, this is not happening . It’s difficult on many levels : it feels of sadness, heaviness, worry and disappointment. Because of an international virus, everything that we have experienced as a human being is being disrupted. Have you noticed ? Even going to the grocery store is now somewhat complicated. People look at each other in fear, anger and sometimes disgust. Some are judged. Many express manifestations of anger through words and actions. The World is in a state of unbalance and it’s leaving many of us feeling uncomfortable. Destabilized. Scared and even slightly unmotivated. I’m no different. I’ve done the time, just like you have. I’ve experienced the fear. I’ve felt the despair around me and sensed the isolation of many. When all this started, I had just lost my Mother to Alzheimers. I was only beginning to grieve after years of exhaustion and sadness. Then this started. The word COVID-19 is now part of new vocabulary. Me, the professional teacher diagnosed with autism and used to distancing herself socially for other reasons, was now being schooled by countless others describing what social distancing was or should be. I’m exhausted this year, but for another reason. I haven’t yet taught in this ‘new format’ because I have been on rest leave. I am exhausted from being sad, from grieving and for living in constant fear of our human lives. Masks. Hand Sanitizer. Lists. Briefings from government agency. People telling us we should do this and that. People still refusing to come out of their homes after weeks of isolation. People are fighting on social media, commenting on matters which should better be left to professionals. It’s been quite the experience, and it would seem that there is no end in sight. The World as we knew it is morphing, and we must adapt. I must adapt. No flying off on a plane for our family this year. No getting away – or is there ?
While in University, I discovered the writings of Henry David Thoreau. This American writer struck me because he described travelling – while in his own backyard. He discovered philosophy, observed nature and re-explored his own substance and essence. He wrote about it – how he became free – socializing with the World while living on his own – and actually finding extreme satisfaction and fulfillment by doing so. Life was simpler for him – and it sufficed. As I said, that really hit a nerve. At first, I didn’t understand and so I discussed it with my Father, who explained to me that he too had travelled the World without ever leaving the country. He read. He painted. He explored museums through books and travelled through time through music. He was never bored. He was seldom isolated, by choice, but was quite content doing so. He found solace in simple moments – and lived to explore that part of himself until he transitioned at the age of 85 years. A lot can be said about observing him. Perhaps it is, after all, all about perspective and about how we shift it.
Let’s try this again. This year, I can’t travel in an airplane. I can however go for rides in my community, and explore the gorgeous nature in our region. I can rediscover how blessed I am to be allowed and fortunate enough to live in a small city where there is air to breathe and space to be enjoyed. I can read books. I can breathe in the air and I can be more grateful for the beauty which surrounds me. I think that the most important thing is that my family and friends are around me. We are healthy. We are supporting each other and supported by others. We are happy and most importantly, we have this incredible privilege called LIFE.
It’s a matter of perspective.
Be nice. Smile. Repeat.
I’m off to plan my staycation …