Fall has come like the click of a camera. All of a sudden the leaves have changed. The air is cool and I want to eat soup. This morning I woke up well before sunrise. As I drank my coffee and stared out into my back patio, I found myself thinking back to last year at this time. In October of last year I had just sold my business. I was experiencing a new kind of freedom for the first time in almost twenty years. I was unencumbered by work and energized to have more time and space in my life.
It took me a while to really feel that freedom in my bones, to not check my email several times a day, to shake the feeling that I had something to do even when I didn't. By January, I noticed that I felt different. My weekends really felt like weekends. Instead of keeping a running list of tasks I had to complete, I was imagining projects I dreamed of doing. I was lighter in all ways.
And then in February Coronavirus hit. My immediate response was fear. We're all going to die! My next response was relief. I didn't have to figure out how to run a business in this new, unknown mayhem of our world. And then guilt. I had sold my business to a dear friend and loyal employee and now it was her problem. Suddenly I didn't feel so free anymore.
And now we are nine months into Coronavirus and I am reflecting on the very concept of freedom. I am not free in the way I once felt free. None of us is. We are more more limited in where we go, who we see, what activities we do, than ever in our lives. But those very limits, it seems, offer me a sense of freedom. A freedom from.
As I rounded the corner from the stress of running a business into Corona times, I fell almost immediately into this new tiny world of my home and my immediate family. I go to the grocery store; I see a handful of friends, mostly one-on-one, very occasionally; and I volunteer at the senior center once a week making hot lunches for delivery. But other than that I am at home. My world has become very small.
This new, small world offers me a freedom from obligations that I didn't even register felt like obligations before. I am free from the responsibility of planning trips to see family, from organizing activities to fill the school breaks. I am free from rsvp-ing to dinner parties or planning them myself. I am free from coffee dates and school events and block parties and neighborhood meetings. There are clear moments when I miss those things. Yesterday I had an all-day ache to just talk to a friend in person, to hang out and drink a glass of wine and eat almonds and olives at one of our kitchen tables.
But the overall feeling I have in one of calm. The simplicity of my life is clear and present. Nine months into this new way, I can feel this simplicity in my body. It's the feeling I had when I was girl, spending time at my grandmother's cottage on Pelican Lake. Nothing to do. Nowhere to be. No one to become. This feeling is my constant companion these days. The call of obligation and expectation is only a whisper of my past; I can hardly remember living that way.
That feeling leaves me more regularly now, as we near the most important election in our history. I find myself in a panic. My chest tightens and my ears get hot. I feel a swell of blood behind my eyebrows. I am petrified. This morning when I woke up I went into our living room and meditated. As I rested in stillness, periodically looking out the window at the sky starting to lighten, I imagined our world feeling this way. I imagined a calm flooding over Trump and Biden and Pelosi and Putin and Johnson and all the world leaders. I visualized this calm washing over my family and friends and neighbors and community. I envisioned it and I prayed for it.
I am grateful to have this period in my life where I am aware and present to this feeling of calm I have now. I hope that, when things in our world change again, when the expectations and obligations of my life become bigger and louder, I will be able to touch back into this feeling and experience it the way I am now.