Pandemic gifts

Here we are, a year into the most confusing time of our lives. Yet, precisely a year ago, I could not have imagined how content I feel right now. “Content” may not be a word we hear much these days, as we still live with pandemic concerns and restrictions. But a year of contemplation in an introvert’s life adds up to a lot of productive, insightful, and enjoyable experiences. Thus, I give credit where credit is due and count all the blessings of this pandemic.

In the beginning, I felt disoriented as the nature of everyday reality shifted overnight. But telling me to stay away from others brought relief. Thus, insight number one – “others” were occupying my life, invited, or uninvited, welcome, or unwelcome. They took energy, time, and resources. Were there too many “others” I didn’t want to share my energy, time, and resources? Thus, I shrunk the circle of souls around me and committed to only keeping those that I enjoy seeing, leaving me uplifted, and I had meaningful connections and interactions. Yep. My dog was it! That’s all I really ever wanted and needed, apparently. And she required a lot of energy, time, and resources. This pandemic has been magical for her. She gets to sit by my side wherever I am because I am either on the couch in my office, a yoga mat,  my bed, or a rock looking at the views above the town.

That’s two birds with one pandemic.

After a few weeks of that, a new realization came over me. I had been spending almost all of my free time in the social dancing community. By “all of my free time,” I mean “very little free time.” That’s two realizations – I didn’t have very much free time, and I usually danced it. I figured that I should have more free time and social dancing was not the only option. I reconnected with non-dancing friends and went on a National Parks adventure. I belly danced, pole danced, hiked, walked the beaches, and yoga my way into the best shape of my life. A year into this pandemic, I have old friends who have become best friends, new friends who are not dancers, and I find myself missing social dancing less and less. As in, not that much. More like, not really… Once the world gets back to social dancing, I’ll be the occasional hit-and-run social dancer that pops in and out when there’s nothing else to do. I’ll always take my dance shoes when I travel because hit-and-run dancing in new communities is a lot more adventurous. It is kind of like eating Indian food in Malaysia, or Chinese food in India, or Mexican in Bulgaria. You think you know what it will be like, only to be surprised by the local variations.

This leads me to what I actually missed the most during the pandemic – international travel. But what I had time for – domestic road trips, finally came to be. I’ve been threatening to go on some of those for decades. Seriously! Finally, I did it and will keep doing it. So, double realization whammy again.

But wait, there’s more!

I realized that since I am high on a personality trait called conscientiousness, I end up biting more than I can chew. I feel guilty saying “no” to people and generally end up duped into all sorts of projects, problems, promises, and people’s stuff. I’ve been saying a lot of “no’s” since and have never been happier! The advantage of saying “no” is that you end up with a lot more energy, time, and resources…your dog will appreciate. I was finally free to imagine my future and how to get there!

I still belong to the “50 and over” club, that’s 50+ unfinished projects, but I have a lot more time to work on them and start new ones, just because, like researching how to travel around the world with my dog. I am learning the latest in psychology, behavioral economics, human aging, healthy eating, and the evolution of relationships. Figuring out how to start a food truck business. Learning about tiny houses. Just stuff. But really cools stuff.

Then, there are the dick pics! Yep, being single can be very amusing. Especially during a pandemic with limited ways for guys to impress a girl. I’ve seen more dicks than a urologist in this last year. Although, I am almost certain that I’ve seen the same dick sent to me by more than one guy. So, naturally, I would like to know if there’s a dick subscription service out there where guys can pick stock images to download. If you know, let me know. Or don’t. I say “no” to that.

I also say “no” to superficiality, killing time, and kissing ass. I say “no” to living on social media only. “No” to things that don’t taste good, fake people, hairy spiders, guilt trippers, holding grudges, and cheap, unhealthy doggy treats.

I say “yes” to a new normal that’s better than the way things used to be before the pandemic. I am delighted and excited for the reshuffling, recalibrating, re-examining, re-envisioning, reorganizing, and redeveloping this last year and onward.

It feels strange to say, but the pandemic year has been the gift that keeps on giving!

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