by Peggy Suzuki
I wish I had a highly motivational experience that has made a difference through this pandemic to share and inspire you with. But the fact of it is that I don’t. I didn’t volunteer at a food bank. I didn’t assist with children’s activities at my child’s school. I didn’t run the marathon on my own time with no one cheering. I didn’t raise money for a cause. And while I did write my dissertation during this time, I would have done this anyway. I did all the work that I needed to do. I cleaned. I took care of my family and they took care of me. I brought my daughter to the park with us wearing masks. I read the news. I called a few friends. I sent a few cards. I emailed here and there. I went running. All of this was the typical mundane parts of everyday life.
But as a I recount all the average things I did and continue to do, I notice one thing that stands out, and that is, how these daily moments are the stuff of life. These moments are precious…every…single…one of them! Have we forgotten the beauty of a sunrise? The peace of a sunset? The joy of seeing a bird land on a tree? Of hearing children giggling or perhaps seeing them do something naughty that is funny but trying not to laugh while they are doing it? Cuddling a cat? Or maybe a chance meeting of a friend on the street?
It is ironic that all we want to do now is go out and do stuff when all we wanted before the pandemic when we were out doing stuff was to just go home. But while we have been camped out in our homes, have we been so busy on our technology that we have forgotten how to come home to ourselves? To go inside to our quiet individual thoughts?
Emily, in Our Town expresses this sentiment of appreciating these ordinary moments as she looks back on a typical day of her life when says, “But, just for a moment now we are all together. Mama, we’re happy. Let’s look at one another…I didn’t realize. All that was going on in life, and we never noticed…Wait! One more look…Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you.”
These daily moments are a gift. The more that we can soak up these precious moments and appreciate the little joys during this time amidst the sadness, pain, and chaos, the better. Chekhov once mused about what people would think of them in “some two or three hundred years” through the character of Vershinin in The Three Sisters when he says, “People will look back at our times with horror, or with sneering laughter, because all of our present day life will appear so clumsy, and burdensome, extraordinarily inept, and strange.”
I wonder this, too. Will they think that we were so self-involved that we forgot to notice who was next to us, or will we remember to stop and pause on the mindful road less taken by simply being present? Sometimes that’s all we can do. But a collective introspective present-ness might just turn our great cynicism aside to appreciate what we do have instead of what we don’t.