The midst of a pandemic, divisive politics and growing isolation is a hard time to be a parent. Or a person …
We are all finding ourselves struggling — with too much work, too little work, juggling virtual school with everyone’s sanity, fear in so many directions, and, for many of us, pervading loneliness and yearning for the level of connectedness we had “before.” For me, I feel fortunate that I still have a job, and that my job allows for some human connection. And yet my concerns about exposure to the virus make each day of human connection nerve-wracking as I interact with unknown visitors to our valley.
For my son Josh, his decision to school virtually decreases his exposure one way, but he still has exposure through his soccer. And that bubble overlaps with the bubbles of others. The winter holidays and family get-togethers will be fraught with compromise for all of us, and in too many cases, filled with empty chairs. On and on our concerns go, and that is only about the pandemic.
What can we do in the face of so much?
Stop. Breathe. Go outside. Never has that mantra been more important. And more difficult to do. Never before have I felt the urge to stay in bed with the covers over my head more strongly. And yet, when I drag myself out — to my front porch, my backyard, or the shores of our river, it is restorative. To sit at the river’s edge and breathe, waiting for the sunrise, knowing that it will come, that the sunrise has no interest in all of our human chaos brings such peace. Its beauty, its consistency, its hope with each new day seems to give me strength in the face of all that I cannot control.
Josh and his friend Luke (a “bubble” friend) have also taken to watching sunrises and sunsets — choosing special locations, learning to check the weather forecast, marveling at the beauty. When I asked Josh what has made them want to do that, he doesn’t have a specific reason. Maybe the lack of other things to do has brought this simple, profound, outdoor activity to the forefront for them. In any event, I am so grateful they have chosen to do it, and I hope that when they look back on this time they remember those sunrises and sunsets among all the memories of things that didn’t happen their senior year.
On Dec. 1, sunrise will be at 7:13 a.m. and sunset at 4:26 p.m. Take a few minutes, step outside (you don’t have to go anywhere, just look to the horizon), and breathe in the beauty. Allow it to soothe you. Let the colors bring you peace, and perhaps even joy, in the midst of all that is making this winter so very challenging. And if you aren’t able to be with your loved ones, you can even make a plan to “watch together” if you are in the same time zone, or, if not, watch in a series, noting the turning of this planet we all call home. The sun will rise (or set, whichever you choose!) for them, wherever they are, too, and the distance between you can shrink in those shared moments. Wishing each of you peace, health and moments of beauty.
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. In her spare time she leads discussions on meaningful topics in order to foster better civic, civil dialogue in the River Valley. She is delighted to share her thoughts on kids, time and nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.