Does anyone else notice a bit of tension in the air these days?
I’m hearing it from my friends, seeing posts about it on social media, and experiencing it a bit myself.
After a year and a half of staying close to home, working less, driving less, going out less, having fewer activities and responsibilities, they all started to come flooding back this fall.
I noticed it with my students, who suddenly had to fit in commutes, in-person youth orchestra and chamber music, and school. Who are exhausted by what would have previously been considered a light day.
I’ve been noticing it with friends who are parents–having to shuffle kids around to activities that are now ON, and dealing with the aftermath of exhausted kids who aren’t used to this suddenly “busy” pace of life.
And while we all bemoaned the loss of these things we loved doing when they were shut down, re-entry has been hard, or at least weird, hasn’t it?
Back into the concert hall! But wearing masks and being sat far away from your “stand partner.” Is it cool to carpool? Grab lunch with people who haven’t really been in your bubble and whose vaccination status you don’t really know? What about dinner parties? Are those okay now? What if I’d rather just stay home in my sweats and watch Squid Game?
And with everything feeling like it’s just getting started, the year is winding down. And that brings about a strange feeling as well. Our collective energy is rising, just as the days are getting shorter, and our bodies are craving home, rest, and warm bowls of soup (at least over on this hemisphere). I wonder if it feels different in Australia?
But it also offers us an important opportunity. I bet that if you can quiet your mind for a moment, you’ll notice that the tension feels slightly different when you don’t feel like doing something because you’re “out of practice” and feeling a bit tired, versus when you don’t feel like doing something because you realize that you just no longer want to do it. Ever.
For some, that’s the dinner party.
For others, that’s the gig.
For others, that’s the 3 different sports and 2 instruments plus theory classes, plus chamber music, plus orchestra, plus math tutors, plus karate, plus girl scouts, plus debate team practice for their kid.
So maybe this autumn season is a great time to question everything we’re doing and keep a tally. Which ones would we be happy to do if only we had more energy, and which ones are we dreading because we have a) outgrown them or b) aren’t worth the added time and stress.
And it’s also important to know that EVERYONE is making these same decisions. We’re all in the same boat here. We shouldn’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to hang out, or doesn’t call as often. And we shouldn’t judge someone for suddenly dropping something they’ve done in the past.
It’s a time to give each other and, more importantly, ourselves the space and the grace to try things on for size. To take the damn nap if we need to, and also to try to muster the energy needed to do something that is, truly, important to us.
It’s also a time to give gratitude for all of the good things we have–the people, the work, the dogs (I’m lookin’ at you, Tango!) and to lean into what our experience through all of this has been.
I’m not saying it’s completely over, but we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, aren’t we? And we get to decide how we re-emerge.
No tension necessary.