I took most of last week off of everything – work, working out, writing – an unplanned fallow week due to heat wave and 2nd shot effects which left me with a few days of lethargy. It was a relief to let go of my productivity goals for a few days and just putter around the studio, nap, and then host a musician playing at our local festival and some friends who came for dinner on Saturday. Though we’re all still tentative, the summer weather and second shots this week have loosened things up considerably around here.
The way the transition out of the pandemic is happening, it almost feels like a new year full of potential and promise. Last weekend we held the first house concert on our outdoor stage in almost a year and I’ve never seen an audience so giddy arrive at our gates. This upcoming weekend’s show, two weeks later, has seen an even greater flood of interest (it’s a good thing we aren’t capped at 50 people outside any longer). We’ve had visits over brunch and dinner, friends are coming to stay, and the tension that permeated every interaction is dissipating bit by bit. Sure, we’re all worried about Delta, but we’re also ready to have some fun again.
I’ve been thinking about this transition for awhile, what I miss and want to return to versus the aspects of “normal” I have no interest in reintroducing into my life. While I have missed dinner parties, I don’t miss union travel. I have longed for spontaneous visits with friends, but I haven’t wanted to return to obligatory social functions. A quieter life in the last year has meant less scheduling and more time in my studio, more depth in my explorations, more time in the woods (and still I don’t feel like I have enough time for all of this). I’m trying to figure out how to maintain that, while allowing some of the social back into my life. I expect come fall, there will be another piece to figure out when in-person work meetings start happening and people expect me to be there. I have a union-related investigation I must be present for at the end of this month, and that will be just the beginning of having to come and go from my small island again.
While I can say no to some things, I can’t forestall them all. I am expected at a wedding in New York next June, there are disciplinary hearings I must attend with people who need support. How can I retain some of this quality of depth and quiet I have cultivated in the last year while also attending to the world outside my home again? I expect the answer to that lies in a more rigorous meditation practice, setting limits on my willingness to attend things in person when it’s possible to do otherwise, and creating space for non-productive/non-screen time during the day or week.
It’s hard to imagine now, but when the Covid shut down happened in March of last year, I had two solid months of on-the-road meetings and conventions ahead of me. Brian had a similarly packed agenda and we both felt overwhelmed by our schedules and the fact we would barely see each other for the upcoming months. As I took things off my calendar one by one, I felt a lot of relief at not having to undergo the gauntlet of obligatory work and union meetings, offset by a bit of sadness at not being able to attend my friend’s swearing in as a judge and missing a trip to New York. As much as I will keep adding things onto my agenda and be “fine” I realized then that I was increasingly *not* fine with the external pressures that had me filling up my day planner year after year. Fortunately, this was also the year I had planned to announce my retirement from union life in 2022, which will take a lot of things off my plate automatically (and not soon enough). Still, I’m going to have to be careful at my propensity to fill my time up with something else.
I am staying home for most of this summer, which is typical for us as I see no reason to leave my home during the nicest months. I have a trip to another island booked with a friend in a couple of weeks, and will go to our cabin in the interior in the fall (hopefully the fires will have passed), but otherwise we are hosting friends and house concerts, and in between I am working and hanging out in my studio. I am thinking about how to get deeper into the creative work I do, not allowing this moment of transition to yank me back into a life I don’t want to return to.
I think it will be easier to break the old habits now that I’ve had a long timeout from them. The question is how much my ego tells me I “have to” dive back into all the old behaviours of before.