Short version: I’m now washing my hair with vinegar (raging success) and wearing blue-blocking glasses to work (verdict is still out). Quarantine life is crazy!
Here in Virginia, I’ve now been under the “shelter in place” restrictions for two weeks. We had another couple weeks prior to that where things were also quite restricted. It’s been 4 weeks since I stepped off the plane and back onto US soil from New Zealand as well. I’ll never take the post-30 hours of travel after a race exhaustion feeling for-granted ever again. I miss the freedom to have an opportunity for that kind of exhaustion.
While I do miss normal life, I’m actually doing alright with all the restrictions in place here. Since we are still allowed to go out and exercise, one of the first internal debates I was having was: how far is TOO far to travel for my exercise? Despite many parks and areas closing, many are still open. I understand the burden that travel causes each time you choose to leave your home. And wrestling with that internal debate was tough! I finally saw it put this way – I think one of the Adirondack publications posted it: if you are measuring the trip in hours, not minutes, then it’s too far and not “local”. There we had it….. my rule would be “is the travel for that over an hour? Too far for right now.”
Once I decided that, it got easier. I’m *extremely* lucky to still have boundless options of people-free, woodsy areas to run in, ride in, hike in and just exist in, within that amount of time. I’m also being careful to make those “almost an hour” trips once a week, or less. Everything else is from the house, and again, I count my lucky stars to have plenty of other options I can reach from my doorstep.
As I have been reflecting so far on life since quarantine, two main themes have come to mind.
First, one of the bright sides is that I’m spending less money and resources, and using more of what is in front of me. I’m now well aware that I have plenty in my drawers, my pantry, and my apartment in general to keep me happy, fed, and stimulated for the time ahead. It’s also made me thankful for where I live, and cemented that I’m in the right place. I’m happy here in Charlottesville, even in arguably “the worst of times” that we are in. That’s a great thing to discover.
The second theme was interesting. I’m not even sure if it’s a theme persay but has been a reoccurring feeling or thought: that I’m frustrated at times, and that I’ve had this frustration before. When was that? Yep. I finally narrowed it down to my time at the US Naval Academy. Oh, those two fateful years! One of the things that always drove me bonkers about military life there was that you can follow all the rules, do exactly what you are supposed to even if it seems ridiculous….and without fail, some jackass would decide he/she was above the rules, and your entire squad/company/batallion/etc would have to pay the price. Frustration also hit me hard there because each squad/company etc was run just a little differently. Each person in a leadership position had a slightly different interpretation of rules and regulations and that was clear in the different ways things were run. What was acceptable in one place might get you loss of privileges just one hallway over.
We are all in midst of experiencing these same frustrations, only now on a level that’s much bigger than my 12 person squad. And now, I can’t just transfer to the University of Virginia where I’d have freedom to do the right things and not always have to be punished for one jackass 😉 I’m literally stuck this time! My initial reaction to that? UGH! I’m not made for this type of environment. I’ll never make it!
But then I reminded myself that I did make it – for two whole years! And it’s become clear to me that surviving in that environment for those two years did a lot for me as a person. I went into the academy a person much more prone to anxiety when things were out of my control, and very much a text book “type-A”. I think in many ways I am still that person, but those two years there did allow me to grow beyond that in many ways. I now recognize the power of “controlling the controllables” and of doing the best I can with what circumstances I am given. Both of these have served me very well in endurance sports since that time as well. I now also see the value in hunkering down, keeping your mouth shut, and following the rules when it’s for the greater good. When you have to work for the *whole* rather than the individual, sacrifice has to be made. I get it.
In the beginning at Navy, it was so easy to get caught up in the grass is always greener side of things — that company was allowed to have boys in their rooms! That squad didn’t have to eat only with movements of right angles (that was the worst, by the way)! Eventually….and I’m not really sure when this happened…. I learned to let it go and just work with what was in front of me. Because I did finally figure out that these things were in place for the greater good – and that was much more important than just my individual instant gratification.
This pandemic has been a reminder of just that: The restrictions we face are for the greater good, so we must endure. Work with what’s in front of you. Have fun with what’s in front of you. Enjoy what is in front of you. Take care of those around you, and do your part. You might be a very small piece of the puzzle, but it’s important. Take it seriously and be proud of it. Do your best, and know that even the jackasses are probably just doing their best too.
I hope you all are getting by in this crazy time!