I’m 42. Is this too late for a mid-life crisis? Do I really think I’ll see 84? Is this a crisis, or just the emotional exhaustion from playing viral hide-and-seek for more than two years?
Some how, with international trips, an adult child going to college in California, another adult child in the workforce, two busy careers and social lives, we are still COVID-free. Still, I’m in a strange head-space because of this pandemic. I spend my professional and free time loving public health, and most days, I am on the brink of tears.
I know I’m not alone. It seems no one is sleeping well. Everyone is imbibing too much, whether it is alcohol or sugar or worse. And we are out of patience. We are acting like angry monkeys who have been scared and kept in a cage for years. Flights keep getting turned around due to unruly passengers. Road rage seems to have escalated. And millions of people walked out on their jobs in December as part of the “great resignation.”
This is a pandemic-exhaustion-frustration crisis. I rarely listen to NPR these days, much less the evening news. I glance at The New York Times and the Arizona Republic each morning, but try my hardest to keep the heavy stuff I can’t change from being another weight on my shoulders. (I see you, Ukrainians. I wish I knew what could be done. It does feel very WWIII to us right now too, and we aren’t on the front line. And Tonga — I hope you all are doing okay. That volcano nearly suffocated you and I couldn’t sleep for nights worrying about how you were going to survive. Mozambique, the latest cyclone was devastating. I hope clean drinking water and some semblance of social order has been restored. I miss your beautiful, complex country and wish you’d all move to higher ground.)
The coffee is brewing, the sun beginning to rise on a rainy February day in the desert. The dogs are pacing, wondering if we are going for a walk now… or now… or NOW? There are choices to be made. Today, I’ll choose to listen to an audiobook during our walk instead of the world news. I’ll make sure to workout, knowing that cardio is the best gift I can give my mental health and counter insomnia. I’ll pray and connect with Jesus, the one relationship in my life that never waivers. I’ll cook my husband dinner, taking joy in putting on my apron and cutting up the onions for the 10,000th time. I’ll drop a lasagna off at a neighbor’s house while her husband recovers from surgery and find happiness in helping others. I’ll find a reason to laugh. I’ll be thankful for this gift of today, a rainy February Wednesday that is in no other way remarkable.
We have to choose to live. We have to lasso the joy we can find and hold it close to us. And we have to remember to get more melatonin so we can sleep tonight.
We are one day closer to this pandemic being over. That’s enough for today.