In 2019 I was on 90 airplanes and in 7 countries.
And my friends will tell you that at the time, I talked a lot about how tired I was, how much I missed home, how annoyed I was by giving the same talk so many times.
In 2020 I was in my apartment. And about 6 months into this pandemic, I tweeted “Sorry for how much I complained about my travel schedule back in 2019 but I was busy taking my entire life for granted”.
In the newly unhurried and uncluttered spaces of my life I have found myself wistfully longing for things I had no idea I was taking for granted at the time. I miss the buzz of humanity that wafts off a live audience as they find their seats – I miss speaking to large groups of actual human beings and not just squares on the screen of my MacBook.
I miss hugging my parents and who I am when I am with my friends and movie theater popcorn.
It reminds me of what it feels like to see pictures of my children from when they were small. How their baby pictures can elicit a longing in me for those lost moments of sweetness – but also elicit a tinge of remorse wondering if I was appreciative then of the thing I wish I had back now?
–Perhaps we are not yet in a place where we can talk about the gifts that have come from this grotesque pandemic, because how do we name a gift that comes to us out of molded ash and tears?
All I can do is love the unhurried and uncluttered space I have now, as I may wistfully long for it if I am again on airplanes every week of my life.
That’s all we’ve got. We can’t go back and fix who we were. We cannot import the wisdom we’ve earned in middle age back to who we were in young adulthood. We can only try and honor now what we wish we had appreciated then. We can only savor now what we will miss when it’s gone. We can only practice being the person today we regret not being in the past.