Exposure

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘This is important! And this is important! And this is important! And you need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”” – Iain Thomas

If nothing else, lately we’ve been forced to drastically change our definition of what is really important.

Less than a month ago, daily training runs and upcoming travel plans were extremely important to me — and it was all I really thought or talked about.

Today, I went for a run in Forest Park and didn’t even bother to wear my Garmin. I don’t know how far or fast I went. And I didn’t care.

I stretched my legs, took countless photos and loved the fresh air. I took a route I’d never seen before.

What I didn’t do was cuddle any dogs I crossed paths with or get within six feet of another person. I stepped off the path to maintain distance from passersby.

If nothing else, sickness and social distancing has given us time to reflect, clear the clutter and, hopefully, make some changes.

Personally, I’ve learned that I have a tendency to be wasteful, going to the store to replenish everything from butter to toilet paper without an extra thought. I now find myself conserving in ways I should have been all along.

I’ve learned that church isn’t necessarily a building. I can watch a live-stream of mass on Facebook. But I miss that building. And the shared experience with other people. Watching children occupy themselves with chunky books and Cheerios. ¬†Listening to the choir, even when the leader couldn’t hit a note with a two by four.

I’ve learned that I’m addicted to scheduling and planning and the certainty it places on the horizon. Planning and uncertainty don’t mix. It takes away the guarantee of tomorrow. So I’m learning to be more flexible and less fearful of the unknown.

I’ve learned that we can care for each other even as we are physically separated. But I’m also keenly aware that life is better with touch. My neighbors had a new grand baby this week…and they’ve only seen her in her car seat while standing at a safe distance, unable to hold her. United in love, separated by distance. Heartbreaking and unnatural.

If nothing else, this time has exposed a lot of holes in the things in which I place my confidence, the things I value, and what I take for granted. And I’m a lot more vulnerable than I thought. But that’s what a crisis does. It reveals us for who we are – the good, the bad and the otherwise. And we can correct our course accordingly. At least now, when I yank my hand back from life, put it on my heart and say, “No. This is what’s important,” maybe I’ll actually be right.

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