I’ve done my share of complaining through the lockdown caused by this pandemic, none of which has remedied the situation or made me feel much better. So in the interest of hope, I decided to ask friends and family what they had gained during this difficult period. I was gratified by what I heard.
Pretty much everyone has been changed by this time, as people have struggled to keep up their spirits and stay positive. These lessons were occasionally difficult, but some people found that the adjustments they’ve had to make were welcome and uplifting. (Not all though.)
Some people found gratitude where they hadn’t seen it before. “I don’t think that I will take anything for granted anymore, because I realize now how everything is truly a gift to us. This past year has also reminded us of how blessed we are for the people in our lives and how fortunate it is that we have had each other to help us get through this trying time together.”
Another said, “What I’ve learned is how really vital friends and friendships are, both old and new. Also how to enjoy the small details of life—flowers in the front gardens, hand-made signs in the windows, birds at the feeder.”
People talked about how they kept themselves from going crazy while stuck inside: “I have survived in good shape, thanks to Zoom and online bridge. I have never played this much in my life, not that I’m any better!”
Another reported, “Since so much of our time is spent together in the house, we also carved out special activities to enjoy together daily, eating meals together, playing piano duets, board games, NY Times puzzles, and have taken on the challenge of reading David Copperfield together in a serialized fashion as it was originally published.”
There have been improvements in skills. “Since I have been avoiding grocery stores during the pandemic and relying on deliveries or curbside pick-up, I think I have become a better cook,” one friend admitted. “Instead of dashing out to the grocery store multiple times a week, I design my meals around what I have on hand. I have been forced to be more innovative and creative.”
Another said, “First, I read a lot and didn’t clean a thing. Then I cleaned my kitchen and half my basement storage and became bored with that, too. I picked up a 15-year-old (not kidding!) project: re-upholstering a chair that belonged to my husband’s father. Being ‘crafty’ has put new energy into my attitude.”
One person conceded that he was longing to return to the office. “Working from home, especially during winter, can be boring and sometimes downright monotonous. I find myself sometimes wishing I was back in the office, walking around with a cup of coffee, awkwardly saying hi to my coworkers as they pass. Weird how that works…”
And there were a lot of comments about getting along with others, especially in close quarters—something I’ve struggled with myself. “I have been holed-up in my enclave with my partner of 20+ years and our relatively new dog who has an inordinate amount of energy. While I want to complain about my inability to cope in this hunkered-down environment, I now realize that all around me are hundreds of others who have at least as bad, if not worse, situations than I do.”
“Patience!” wrote a friend from Minnesota. “I have so much more patience now that I don’t have the stress of the outside world; time flows differently and I’m more laid-back because of that. I also look for reasons to laugh. If my first reaction might be to take offense in the past, now I just laugh and see that I was probably way too thin-skinned for most of my life.”
A retired teacher who is stuck at home with her retired-teacher husband reported, “We started to walk miles together, rain or shine. We planned our meals and shared the cooking. We watched Netflix and then would read together for an hour. This life was new. All this togetherness—yikes! We surprised each other by realizing that after 50 years we still liked each other!”
Empathy loomed large in people’s thoughts: “I hope it has made me more aware of others—their joys, sadnesses, needs, successes. Being physically apart has made me more conscious of the need for connectedness.”
Another friend said, “For 69 years, I labored under the false notion that I could walk around whenever and wherever I wanted without a thought as to whom it might affect.”
And here’s one that really resonated with me: “We are all experiencing something very different and very real to each and every one of us. My mantra as I live in isolation and fear: Remember to have grace with all the people near and far from you. We need to be kind and accepting.”
Great article, Abby! What everybody said is true. The pandemic has had some positive aspects, teaching us to be more patient, more creative, more resourceful, and especially more kind and accepting of others.
Your article is so uplifting! It’s so relatable and uplifting!
Another interesting, thought-inspiring article from Abigail Gary!