The other day, my mother shared a video from RG Lyons (a pastor at her church). I’ve always respected RG since the day I met him over 10 years ago at Urban Ministry mainly because of his honesty, transparency, and kindness. He’s the real deal. Anyway, his video was about “nuance” and especially the nuance that exists in this really hard time of uncertainty, anxiety, joy, and quarantine. I’ve been thinking about that video a lot and I think I’ve been stuck. I’ve been too afraid to embrace the nuance I feel because of the things I know I should be grateful for during this time. I don’t leave the necessary space to say the truth, whether it sounds good or fair or even nice. I feel like RG gave me permission to do that and so I’d like to share some of my own personal nuances here in case it helps any of you embrace your own. No judgement. Just truth.
I have downloaded and saved more “reflective” articles I can count. I have downloaded books, audible books, and magazines. It never fails: The minute I begin to read them, my internal shiny ball begins bouncing. Next thing you know, I’m researching COVID-19 and counting stats. Reflective time ends as soon as I clicked on the article and got to the second sentence.
I have spent an abnormal amount of time thinking about what I’ve gained during this time and how I don’t want to go back to the way things were. At the exact same time I am eager to get back to SOME kind of schedule and order. I find myself thinking, “When we get back to normal,” but the problem is all that “normal” wasn’t working either. Lots of feelings on this one.
I have spent more time with my kids than I ever have and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I’ve noticed things about them that I would have completely missed had we not been forced to pause. In just three months, I’ve witnessed so many small and big changes with them and it makes me wonder what I’ve missed over the years and what I may miss once the quarantine ends. At the same time, I wonder what quarantine would look like before children. Would I actually be reading books, learning stuff, completing projects, and strengthening my inner self? Or would I be just as distracted as I am with kids? Can you be sick and tired of quarantine while also feeling deep sadness if it ends tomorrow?
I never thought I had time to exercise before quarantine. I was too busy. There just wasn’t any time for it. Fast forward to quarantine and I’m still not exercising. Nuance? Sure. Personal truth exposed like a gut punch? Definitely.
There are folks that adapt to change and fear by creating structures to follow. I am not that person. I find comfort in cheetos. I also find comfort in thinking day-to-day rather than looking towards the future. There are many strengths that come with this mentality, but quarantine has been hard. There are only so many cheetos. And when I get to feeling guilty about all the cheetos, I begin thinking about how I could adjust my current style post-quarantine so that the cheetos don’t matter. And so every brand of clothing that looks like this is now a constant in my Facebook and Instagram feeds.
I am trying to stay in a place of hope. I’m trying to see the world through the eyes of my children. I am trying my best to reassure them. I am also biting my tongue constantly as I listen to others complain about being inconvenienced. I want to throw things at the TV when I hear the lack of empathy, the conspiracy theories, the political rhetoric, and the insanity. I want to shield my kids from all of it — the immaturity, the selfishness, the absolute reckless behavior, and I am constantly searching for words to explain it to them when there aren’t any. I think we are all struggling with this and I think no matter what we pretend, we are all vulnerable and afraid. Vulnerability and fear are very hard things to deal with internally much less at such a collective level and we are seeing folks react differently in such different ways: Some are pushing back and rejecting it entirely. Some are avoiding it and pretending it doesn’t exist. Some are embracing it wholeheartedly and living differently because of it. I guess this is nuance in its truest form and it hasn’t been easy to release judgement and blame from wherever you may be sitting in all of it. This is just hard. Can we all say that out loud together?
Finally, I feel guilty almost always for feeling inconvenienced and tired of quarantine because I know how lucky I have it. I know that having a roof over our heads, space to run outside in our yard, jobs we love, and income to provide for our family is the basis for our survival. I believe we should use that foundation as a springboard for helping those around us. I believe that if we have more than others, we share it and hope that they will do the same when we may not have enough. Isn’t that the point of all this anyway? Anyway, back to nuance. At the same time, I can’t help but think about how I’d do it different next time: I’d definitely have a lake house. That’s for sure. I’d also have a bigger house so that we could add more folks to our quarantine so that we could be together. I’d enter quarantine at least 30lbs lighter so that I would come out on the other side a little healthier. I’d focus on whole foods instead of cheetos at the beginning. So, see? There is a place in all of us that can know and appreciate where we are in this and still want something different. It’s such a difficult thing to sort out — even in non-quarantine times.
Today is Memorial Day and it is clear we are a very nuanced society. Some are celebrating with risks. Others are staying put. I’m doing what I always do and making Barefoot Contessa’s Summer Fruit Crostata and sharing it with my neighbors. May we recognize our nuances with space and grace while also agreeing to keep each other safe. Our family will be wearing masks, washing our hands, and keeping a safe distance from you because we want you to be safe and healthy and well. That’s the truth.