The man who sold it told me to wait five years. But to wait is tiresome. To witness without expectations, to allow for stillness, to simply be present as the tiny gears inch to full circle is much simpler, less heartbreaking, and sometimes, even fruitful.
As the pandemic-induced quarantine unfolded, I’ve become less concerned about waiting. I’ve stopped counting the days. They all look pretty similar to me – bare, often quiet, slow-moving as fog. Counting – anything remotely connected to mathematics, if I’d be honest – is not only my weakest suit, but it’s futile to me and the work that I do in editorial and publishing.
Right now, we live our days mostly in the short term – except the part where we isolate for long-term gains. In a world where no one knows an absolute, exact solution; where even scientists can only estimate the number of days, weeks, months, years we need to bear to fight an enemy we cannot see, how do you keep counting the days and making elaborate plans only to be told “not yet” over and over again and not lose a thread of hope each time?
With many liberties taken, life has changed shape. Oft-overlooked simplicities have become valuable. I work 12 to 16 hours a day including weekends, and a bike ride to run errands is now a godsend. Pre-quarantine, I viewed it mainly as exercise; a way to reduce transport costs. Now, with freedom of movement largely restricted, without access to sights outside our home, our rickety bike has become the only means to keep everything up and running in the house.
It is liberation from the toll that everyday living in these uncertain times brings.
At sunset, I’d stomp on the pedal – full halt – and just spend minutes looking at the Sierra Madre Mountain Range from afar. I’d lean my head against the wind to marvel at birds flying in Vs. I don’t even bother to take photos most of the time. Eternity in seconds. That’s how sunset bike rides feel to me these days. They haven’t been for a very long time.
For a long time, I was always in a mad rush to work. It’s an innate characteristic that’s hard to get rid of. I’ve yet to learn the art of doing nothing. Labor is an act I take pride in. One that I can be happily immersed in for more than half of a 24-hour period. But I’ve also rediscovered the meaning of and the joy in slowing down, even just for an hour three times a week. I’ve relearned the value of warm conversations and switching off for and with my daughter. Every day I am reminded of how it feels like to return to a time when connection meant things you can feel, smell, and see with your barest senses. To live simply, mindfully, and compassionately.