Man plans—God laughs…
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…
Well, you get the picture. Like so many people, I had tons of plans for this holiday season. I was going to go to see my kids in California for Thanksgiving. I was going to attend at least three concerts, and maybe a Broadway show or two. I’d have celebratory lunches with my editors, like I’ve done for years now.
Unfortunately, none of that happened. Stupid Covid.
Still, I promise you this isn’t going to be yet another a griping blog post. Although there is much to gripe about.
Nope, this is actually going to be a post about what I am learning about myself as I find myself pretty much isolated as the pandemic drags on. And I bet a lot of what I’ve discovered about me is similar to what you have learned about yourself.
For starters, I have learned that I am truly passionate about writing. Now you may think that’s a funny thing for an author to learn this far down the line. But truthfully, I’ve never thought about it before. I just got up and wrote every morning. It was what I did. Like any other job. Until the pandemic. That’s when I became truly grateful for things like language and imagination. Writing has been a godsend during the past few months. I’ve been creating two new series, which basically means I’ve been designing and controlling two new universes, and meeting new characters who are now as real to me as the friends I zoom with or walk with in the park (at a proper social distance, with masks. Promise). The adage is true—if you love what you do you’ll never work a days in your life. This is why it’s so important to find a passion in life. I’m not saying that everyone will be lucky enough to make their passion their profession, but having something you love to do on your own is certain to give you a sense of satisfaction. Whether your passion is exercise, or knitting, or playing guitar, that passion will give you a goal to shoot for. Imagine waking up in the morning saying to yourself, “Today I will run another half mile.” Or “Today’s the day I’m going to finish that scarf.” Or “Today I’m going to write that song that’s been dying to burst out of me.” Having that kind of passion will make the days go faster.
I have also learned who my real friends are. I have always prided myself on having a lot of friends. But there’s a difference between people who you are friendly with and who your true friends are. True friends are the ones who check in on you to make sure you’re okay. They’re the ones you call first when you feel like talking while you walk in the park. And they’re the ones who are as happy for your successes as you are for yourself. During this pandemic I have reconnected with friends from all stages of my life, and I’ve been amazed at how when someone is a true friend, you can pick up where you left off without skipping a beat—even if its been more than a year since you last spoke or saw one another. We are all craving human contact, and I am no different. I’ve always been passionate about people. Which is why I’m so grateful for zoom and cell phones. I can’t even imagine the isolation folks who lived through the 1918 pandemic must have felt.
I have alsorediscovered my passion for music. Lately, sitting in the backroom, listening to old vinyl on a turntable has become my gift to myself. After a day of writing, cleaning, cooking, and checking in on loved ones, there is nothing more joyous than pulling out an album I’ve had since middle school and reliving the memories that only a really wonderful song can bring out. Having a husband who is a musician, you would think I would always appreciate such things. But I think I took music for a granted for a long time. In my house it’s always been around us, all the time. I even have a whole wall decorated with various percussion instruments in my front hall. I usually play CDs while I write. And of course my husband will just noodle around on the piano whenever the mood strikes. That’s all nice. But I’ve found the concentrated, purposeful listening to music to be one of the greatest gifts I can give myself these days.
And then there’s reading. I have always been a voracious reader—most writers are. But I didn’t always make time for reading the way I should have. There was always too much to do. So much wandering around the city. Errands to run. Classes at the gym. Deadlines to meet. Lunches with friends. That new boutique to check out. Dinner to cook. It seems as though staying put during the pandemic has given me extra hours in a day. Which has allowed me to reignite the passion of reading, whether it’s discovering new authors, or re-reading some of my old favorites.
As I re-read what I’ve been writing here, I discover one word is popping up over and over. Now in a book, the copy editor would have flagged that, and told me to come up with another term. But in this case, I am kind of enjoying seeing how many times I’ve typed the word PASSION. I think in the end, when I look back on this whole mess, I will remember two things: Of course, the people we have all lost (because it seems everyone knows someone who has fallen victim to this horrid disease), but also the parts of myself once lost and now found.
I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this during the past 9 or 10 months. For instance, my kids have become more passionate about things in their lives—you should see the photos of my daughter’s new garden or read her latest brilliant manuscript; and I wish you could hear my son discuss the writing of his latest song, or explain what he’s learned through his new interest in finance. As for my husband, I hope you will check out Daniel Burwasser’s latest music on his website. My parents have discovered the fun of jigsaw puzzles—well, probably not the puzzles so much as the joy of working on projects together now that they don’t have so many different activities taking them in separate directions.
So now it’s your turn. What new passions have you sparked during the pandemic? What magic have you rediscovered? And more importantly, how do you plan to hold on to those passions once we’ve turned the corner and returned to “normal” life?