Someone I loved
Once gave me
A box full of darkness.
It took me years
That this, too,
Was a gift.
– Mary Oliver
JOMO: acronym for “The Joy of Missing Out”
I am a homebody. I used to love it when we had snow days and couldn’t go out. The feeling of turning off the outside world and snuggling under a blanket was always something I craved. However, staying at home today has a very different tenor.
The reason to stay home now is not a choice, but a mandate. Stay home and be safe. There are few answers about how long we have to stay isolated. Also, there are few assurances that life will be the same when we emerge from our dwellings. The media does nothing but ramp up our stress and trigger our deepest fears.
Yet, I am searching for joy. Where is the JOMO = joy of missing out?
There are some examples:
- A local drive-in movie theater opened its pasture for the season. The movie started with the national anthem.
- Neighborhood social media sites are heavily populated with posts offering to help those who are sick or elderly. People offering to deliver food and medicine to those who are afraid or are otherwise housebound.
- My dad came over the other day for a “window visit”. We greeted him at the front door window and bowed to one another, followed by “air hugs”. The kids were able to see their beloved Papa – we showed him how much the kittens have grown, and I was relieved to see his sweet smile again.
- Our daughter took a virtual tour of Anne Frank’s house online. She was delighted as she just read The Diary of Anne Frank at school. She is going to take virtual tours of art galleries that her Nonna sent links to access.
- One must not underestimate the power of a kitten resting on your lap to reset your mind and relieve your stress. Our kittens, Axel and Allie, have been relishing this time that we are home. They are different from other cats. They actually like us.
- Our son played XBox with a family friend. This friend of his is more like family and it’s so nice to hear his voice on the line while they battled each other on Madden.
- My husband and his culinary skills. I am so beyond grateful for his cooking talent. He is making the most fantastic and healthy meals for us. And, I am baking with the kids. We are all going to gain weight, but c’est la vie!
- Slowing down with family – we have been playing board games, writing daily journal entries to keep an artifact of this time and looking through old family pictures. The stories that come from these pictures are teaching our kids their family’s history.
I know this appears all idyllic, but our lives are far from perfect right now. There are still sibling rivalries that have turned into epic battles due to stress. My husband and I have been irritable. I have put myself into time out on several occasions- finding solace in my bedroom with headphones on to just get some quiet.
But, I can’t help thinking how lucky we are. We have working appliances to cook our food, clean our clothes and keep us warm/cool in this changing time. Our water is clean and everyone is healthy. We have the ability to work from home, which I absolutely do not take for granted. My family and I do not have to leave my house to work or fight this virus. For that, I am truly grateful to all of those heroes who must do the hard work needed for us to stay safe.
I could end this post with some big pronouncement, but quite frankly, I have nothing. I have no answers, which as a mother and a teacher is frustrating. All I can think of doing is trying to remain calm through exercise, meditation and awareness of my actions. To help others – trying to be as understanding and patient as possible. To practice as George Saunders called it, “muscular kindness”.
Too often we underestimate the power of
A kind word,
A listening ear,
An honest compliment,
Or, the smallest act of caring,
All of which have the potential to turn a life around.
– Leo Buscaglia