Yesterday I truly believed it was Day 50. I felt like celebrating, as if we’d made it to the half way point. The halfway point? As if you can be halfway on a journey to an unknown place that requires an unknown amount of time.
It wasn’t until I woke up this morning that I realized I had skipped Day 49 altogether. As much as we’re making of this time, maybe the days are running together a bit. Maybe I’m getting a taste of what it must’ve felt like to be a person of privilege in a bygone era. (Think Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey) Except I still have to clean my house so it’s only kind of like that.
Maybe the universe noticed all the mental fog and sent me some signs today because this very morning I was introduced to something called Beginner’s Mind. (Thank you Headspace) The idea is to look at all the normal, everyday things as if you’ve never seen or tasted or heard them before. With new ears and eyes, take in the world around you no matter how limited. With the curiosity of a child it’s impossible to be bored. This speaks directly to combating this feeling of quarantine dementia that I’m clearly experiencing.
Meanwhile I was gifted book called Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and just happened on a passage today that encouraged the reader to eat a meal alone without reading anything, without scanning social media, just focusing on the taste of the food. I was actually eating as I read this passage and wondered if the author would want me to stop reading his book so that I could enjoy the taste of the salmon spread that maybe had been one day too long in the fridge. Back to the point–I did put the book down, but mostly because someone said Mommy 10 times. After that though I did thoroughly savor the taste of the fresh chopped tomato salad with minimal distraction.
More proof of the universe’s concern for humanity losing track of the days was the gift of a pasta press from a friend. If there is any time to stand around making macaroni for two hours and really appreciating the details, it is during an endless quarantine. We really enjoyed it—like an electric play-doh press that makes your dinner.
Although quarantining with small children can be challenging, they are a window into life’s simple delights. It is a privilege to look through their eyes at the world and re-explore what it is to be curious and awestruck by everyday details.
Yesterday on our walk we happened upon some fluffy seed pods and flowers from a nearby tree or shrub. I was unfamiliar with the species but I knew Big Sister would interested in how soft they were and in their function. We stopped for a few minutes and I explained that the fluff was actually a wind catcher, a tiny parachute for the seed. We detached a number of the puffs and let them fly in the wind before continuing on our way.
Later when we stopped to blow the dandelion wishes, Big Sister looked at the dandelion and then looked at me and said, But Mom, you know these fluffy parts are really just a way for the wind to catch the seeds and carry them away so that a new wish can grow.
Suddenly I was the one filled with wonder. She was dead serious. She said it like she’d always understood it and moved on to the next curiosity. I stood there kind of dumbstruck. The synapses in kids brains fire so fast. The connections are forged in seconds. That she could apply this concept so quickly in another setting far surpassed my expectations of her observational ability.
And so on Day 50 I can say with certainty that we could all vastly improve our quarantine experiences (and our every day lives) if we spiced things up with a little curiosity and a little wonder. And probably a little Aperol Spritz or maybe a Kahlua and Creme could spice things up nicely too. I think I need a night cap.