One of the things that the stay in place order as a result of the coronavirus has done for me is given me time to slow down. Since the children are grown and I'm living alone, I almost never have to set an alarm. On Sundays I always had to get up at 5 so I would have time to practice my horn before I left for the 9:00 Mass. On Mondays I also usually got up at 5 to practice before I went to the 9:00 daily Mass and then Bible Study. This past Monday, I slept through two alarms and didn't wake up until 8:45. I honestly don't even remember the last time I slept that late! I know many people are telling us to set a schedule to keep us from feeling lost or disorganized, but at this point, I feel free! Most of my life has been spent at the beck and call of others: school schedules, extracurricular activities, work hours, the demands of six children and their school schedules, extracurricular activities and carpools. Even when I began homeschooling my fifth daughter, I was still locked into the schedules of my other children and I tried to maintain a schedule for her and then my son when I began homeschooling him as well. My daughter was very self-motivated; she could sit down with her list of assignments and just power through until she was done. Some days, however, we rolled dice to see which assignment she'd do first. My husband, who was a very linear thinker, was horrified by that approach, but I pointed out that she always got everything done, and it put more fun in the day.
When we first began the lockdown, I often had to stop and think what day it was. For someone who never missed a Sunday Mass, except once when I was coming home from having our fourth baby, not being able to go to Mass to start the week has skewed my life quite thoroughly. And I don't have Bible study on Monday morning or choir practice Monday night. There is no more neighborhood Bible Study on Tuesday night, and my hour of prayer on Wednesday night at church is now done at home. I have missed one granddaughter's birthday (she sadly reminded me last night that she was really hoping for her American Girl doll, which I have given to each of my granddaughters when they turn 8). I will probably miss the next granddaughter's birthday also, and their two First Communions as well as the Confirmations of two of my grandsons are up in the air as well. Their presents are all piled up on the counter in my office waiting for the chance for us to be together again. The only things that are still going forward, although virtually, are my Weight Watcher workshops and my horn lessons. However, the horn lessons over Zoom or Messenger leave a great deal to be desired. When we go into the lower registers, it sounds as if we have also gone underwater, and it is difficult to hear a lot of the warmup. I have ordered a microphone that will plug into my computer, and it should arrive on Tuesday, and then my teacher and I will determine if it makes enough of a difference for him to order one as well. I told me daughter Mary that I will buy one for her three boys, who all take lessons, if it seems to make them less like an adventure in an aquarium.
The very fact that there are so few things on my schedule that have to be done seems to be releasing me slowly from the grip of the feeling that I am constantly rushing from one thing to another. I remember how our son, when he was only 3 years old, would sit at the little desk he had where he could color, and say, "There's lots of work to be done." I think that has been my motto for most of my life, and as I ponder a much less structured life, I feel as if the giant boa constrictor of time is gradually releasing its coils and allowing me to breathe more deeply, to look around at spring unfolding everywhere, from the wisteria hanging its purple panicles from the top of the podocarpus tree, to the orange blossoms that are beginning to perfume the air amid a huge crop of oranges, to the deep green of the grass after an unusual amount of rain, to my four valiant tomato plants, set in the ground with the help of several of my grandchildren just before we were all placed on lockdown. They are all growing without any help from me, other than an occasional cheering word when I am sauntering about the back yard surveying my little domain and looking forward to hearing once again the delighted shouts of children frolicking about back there. I am determined to enjoy the restful pace of now, and I am giving some thought to how to incorporate the slower pace into my life when the world situation settles into a different rhythm.