The Coronavirus has us all going a little nuts right now. People swarm to the stores to stock up on toilet paper. Governors across the nation are shutting things down at an unprecedented rate. And we are all cooped up in our houses, working from home and watching Netflix like it’s our job. This isn’t normal, and anybody who tries to play it off as normal is in denial.
I’ve adopted a bit of a new routine. For the most part, I stay at home. For the first time in my life, my job is letting me work from home. This is something that I’ve always said I wanted. Now that I have it, I see that it’s overrated. Perhaps if everything else wasn’t shut down, I’d enjoy it a lot more. But for now it just feels like I’m cooped up.
One of the things I do to counteract the isolation, however, is to go for short drives. I pack a small lunch box with bottles of water and treats. I have a small bucket with hand soap and a gallon of water to wash my hands. And, if I need to pee, I stop somewhere out in the backwoods country to do so. I can do a good two or three hours of driving without interacting with anybody and only getting out of my car in obscure places.
During today’s drive, I thought a lot about this website and the direction I wanted to go with my writing career. I have so many things that I’d like to do, but only so much time to do it. This is a source of great stress for me because it means I’m often paralyzed by indecision about what to work on next.
I also thought about how I recently ended a nine year stint in education. I spent my entire life believing that I was supposed to go into education, feeling like teaching was a calling on my life. Earlier this year, however, I quit in the middle of the school year. The stress and the struggles created by my job became too much for me, and I jumped ship.
For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.–Viktor Frankl
I managed to find another job in Engineering (what I did before becoming a teacher), but I never really had time to process the feelings of leaving education behind. On top of that, my kids are really grown up these days (my son is sixteen and my daughter is almost fourteen). I realized that during the past ten years, I spent a lot of time focusing on two major life purposes: being a dad and being a teacher.
And, now, both of those purposes are either out of my life entirely (teaching) or scaled way down because my kids are growing up and getting their own lives. I had this breakdown moment in my car where I realized that I am currently living for no real purpose anymore. At least not for the purposes that defined the past couple of decades for me.
And, yes, I’ll admit, I cried. Oh, who am I kidding? I sobbed like a schoolgirl who just got beat up by a bully. And, in my grief, I thought about my mom. My dear saint of a mother who passed away in 2018. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t the best of moments for me.
While I was crying, though, I said something that snapped me back to reality. I told myself that I needed to dream a new dream. I’m not going to sit and pretend like that made everything okay, but it has made me think about things in a more constructive way since I said it.
I suppose we all face moments of crisis in our lives. For me, it’s been a few years of total shit show after total shit show. And with the virus going around, it looks like there’s no end in sight. It doesn’t help that I’m middle-aged and thinking about my mortality. I can totally see why people have mid-life crises.
When I got home, I was reading stuff on Facebook and a fellow comic book nerd made a post about how he thought Spider-man 2 was one of the best superhero movies of all time. And I have to say, I don’t disagree with him. It reminded me of this scene, this beautiful scene, where Aunt May inspires Peter to do the right thing:
I gotta admit, it made me a little teary-eyed. It was very synchronistic. If you’ve read my new book, you will understand why I believe that God exists in the synchronicities of our lives. I see the speech that she gave Peter as inspiration for me to move forward and to dream a new dream.
It reminds me of a quote I posted on Facebook a few days ago:
When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.–Viktor Frankl
With the uncertainty of this virus, I think we are all being asked to change ourselves. Life is going to keep serving up shit sandwiches, but we have to keep learning how to process them for the good of our own experience. Collectively we are suffering right now, but individually we can rise above it.
Today I am challenging myself to dream a new dream. To imagine a new purpose for my life. And if you’re reading this, I imagine it’s because God or the universe or whatever is challenging you to do the same. It’s time to think ahead. We won’t be cooped up forever. This is going to end and, when it does, I think we all need to decide where we go from here.