I have a friend who's ex is planning a trip to Hawaii with their kids. My friend is furious. The travel plans to Hawaii are totally against their state's travel restrictions and it's not a necessary trip. My friend is furious. It puts her and the whole family at risk. I am, of course on the side of my friend, not just because she is my friend, but because I am a rule abider. I believe that, if we all followed the COVID rules, we'd be a lot further into healing this country of the virus.
My friend's conflict with her ex has got me thinking about how differently people are handling the restrictions in this pandemic. In seventh grade, I learned that World War Two lasted six years and that Anne Frank hid in a tiny hidden room for more than 700 days. I remember thinking how impossible that would be-- to endure that kind of extreme hardship for so long.
But I have endured. We have endured. We are still enduring. We are not in a war or hiding from the Nazis, but our lives have radically changed. We cannot travel where we want, we cannot see our friends or family, our children cannot go to school, we cannot go out in the world and feel safe from the virus. If someone told me ten years ago that this is what my life would look like one day, I would have thought the same thing I did in seventh grade, that it would be impossible to endure.
But almost a year in, I am okay. My family is okay. What we have is enough. We have enough food, money, clothes, heat, space. Our little world, the walls of our house, have become enough. It's as if we've grown inward, creating ways to evolve within the confinement instead of looking beyond the walls in search of something more. In the absence of this possibility, we do with what we have and it becomes enough.
It isn't easy, but it's possible. Right now my partner Nancy is doing a twenty-eight-day strength-training class. My daughter Lucia is going through her closet and selling clothes on Depop. I do watercolors and jump in the lake every day. We eat dinner together every night and sometimes we play Scrabble. Every few weeks or months one of us comes up with a new passion or goal or idea. We are all discovering ways to create and recreate ourselves in the confinement of our home.
Our home has become our little box of everything. And as I think of my friend's ex, taking the kids to Hawaii to get a break from the confinement of the pandemic, the confinement that we are all living in, I think I understand what motivates her. Her box is not enough. She has not settled into it. She is fighting to get out of the box instead of figuring out how to live within it.
I'm not glad to be in a pandemic. It's scary and lonely and boring. But I can see now that it's possible to find a sense of peace and equanimity within it. I understand that by accepting reality as it is right now, by breathing what life we can into our little box, that it becomes enough. Instead of living in panic, desperate to escape the box, we inhabit it. We occupy all the different rooms, turn on all of the lights, open all of the closets and drawers, and use all of the appliances. We find all of the hidden spaces and discover books we haven't read and recipes we've never cooked.
It would be a lie if I said I didn't miss my family, my friends, the adventures I used to have outside of this little box. I miss all of that and hope that one day I'll travel and hug my mom and share meals with my friends. But to hope for that, to wish for something different when we are in a pandemic will only bring me suffering. It will make me claustrophobic and maniacal. I'll want to break every window in my house and run screaming through the streets without a mask. So I settle into my box, look around, and see that, though it's not everything I want, for now, what's in this box is enough.