There’s something to be said about life in “paradise”… “Be careful what you wish for.”
We made the transition from many, many years in Massachusetts, with a brief respite in Hawaii, to Florida hell-bent on getting away from frigid winters and having to slog through snow (yeah, it looked so romantic in “Dr. Zhivago“) to go to work. We were careful in our search for a new place to call “home” and took nearly three years to finally settle on the Tampa area.
Seemed like a good idea, and I lucked into a part-time teaching opportunity at The University of Tampa. We built ourselves a brand-new house in a rapidly-developing area on the southeast edge of Tampa…good neighborhood…convenient shopping. But no public transportation, something we had come to really appreciate in Boston. Nothing’s perfect.
But now we’ve been bogged down in the quagmire “affectionately” known as “Covid-19” for going on a lifetime. It’s summer. It’s hot outside. And I/we absolutely refuse to expose ourselves to the idiocy of those humanoids who insist that “it’s not as dangerous as ‘they’ say.” So we’re pretty much stuck at home, making the best of an otherwise awful situation.
I think of my students past and present during these times and reflect on the situation that they find themselves in. They’re a resilient group, and, for the most part, they’re coping as best they can. Some have been hit with “furloughs” (Every time I hear that term, I think of my time in the military…back in that situation, a furlough was often a welcome break from regular duty. Not the same today.) and are as patiently as possible biding their time waiting for “normal life” to return. Those who are still in school are wondering just what life is going to be like when classes start up again in the fall.
The one thing that they all (we all) have in common is a realization of just how important networks can be…work acquaintances, personal friends, former classmates, family…in helping us keep a grip on sanity. Margaret (my wife) talks with her sister in Taipei almost every day. Normally we would be able to spend a month or so there, enjoying a break from our normal routine and sampling the bazillion new restaurants that have sprung up since our last visit. I’m managing to get myself involved in another bazillion PR-related activities ranging from podcast interviews to blog posts to (virtual) speaking engagements.
But it’s not the same. As much as a “routine” is a routine, it’s still a tried, proven and comfortable order of doing things. And you have to wrap your head around the fact for the time being that “things are different now and will be for a while.”
For my student friends and others…take heart. Things will return to some semblance of “normal” sooner or later. In the meantime, reach out to your network and share your feelings. I can guarantee you that you’re not the only person feeling the way you feel.
To close with my favorite quote from poet John Masefield’s “Tomorrow“: “But tomorrow, by the living God, we’ll try the game again.”