Dispatches from the Western Front: Slip Sliding Away
Life and Times in the Era of COVID-19, by Father Time
The Agenda Is No Agenda
At dinner the other night, I looked up at our family calendar. What I mean is, I really looked at it.
Here’s what I saw: the festive green shamrock-bordered March placard was still at the top, and all the dates were written in with dry erase marker, but all the events and obligations were gone.
The only one that remained was in the Friday the 13th box: “Last Day of School.”
My wife isn’t one to trade in signs and symbology, but her deliberate erasure of this calendar was symbolic in its own right.
Besides the demarcation of school literary ending, all that remains on the board are the blank squares after March 31, as if to represent the tabula rasa that April has suddenly become.
That, and a Save-the-Date wedding announcement for a young cousin whose nuptials are set for August.
“Are we going to go to that?” my wife joked recently.
“Who knows?” I said.
Who knows what will happen tomorrow or the next day or the next?
What is happening is an interesting phenomenon called now. Remove the physically debilitating news cycle, the fear that has replaced the joy of procuring groceries, and the reality of being confined to your neighborhood sidewalks, and what you’re left with is a defined cycle of wake, eat, work, play, eat, sleep, and on and on.
Though it feels mundane (and I was stunned when the family calendar told me that it’s only been a solid three weeks), there’s a twisted Zen quality about it. There is no expectation. The agenda is no agenda.
In a family setting, this can be quite liberating. There’s not a need to rush to school or a practice or a meeting, or to an event or an attraction. There’s security in being grounded.
At least these are the buzzwords of late. We’re not trapped at home, we’re safe at home. I agree with this. It goes back to the attitude component. Embrace it and it will be fine. Don’t, and you’ll be Jack Torrance from The Shining.
But let’s not be macabre. At least not yet.
For now, blink only once at the calendar. Time keeps on marching on. Let the minutes turn to hours, hours to days and so on. While away for a while.
This story was previously published on The Good Men Project.