My parents were young during the Great Depression. It marked them. They learned to save for a rainy day and conserve their resources. They were the original recyclers. My dad threw away little, keeping unusual items in case he might need them some day, like a single flip-flop stored in a cabinet in his garage. And what do you know, one day he did need it.
My step-mother washed and stored fast food containers. She had a stash of unused paper napkins and straws in a drawer in her kitchen. Their generation embodied the motto, “Use it up, wear it out, make it last, or do without.”
It is day twelve of our confinement. The days run together, today looking very much like yesterday. I try to remember what day of the week it is.
I’m realizing I don’t need as much to survive as I may have thought. My breakfast prayer includes thanks for food, shelter, and basic necessities. How often have I taken them for granted because I wanted something shiny and new?
My life is slower. Simple things are a gift, like the young man’s friendly greeting at Kroger as he loaded my groceries in the car’s trunk, and the person who handed me two deliciously prepared blizzards through the take-out window at the oddly-dark Dairy Queen. A blizzard and a refrigerator re-stocked with food are luxuries.
Sweet William helped me sharpen my garden tools yesterday. He knows his way around a file better than I do. It felt good to accomplish something on my list. I need to see some check marks in my bullet journal, some task completed.
The world seems a bit crazy. When we expectantly wrote the year 2020 for the first time in January, who could have predicted this, confinement and uncertainty that would drive us indoors for an undetermined period.
It is interesting that we have been thrust into a time of stillness in a culture that thrives on busy. Being busy is our mantra, the badge we wear. Busy makes us feel necessary. Busy is how we function best. Or maybe not.
I wonder how we will be marked by our days of confinement. Will we look back and recall how strange it was for a while, how toilet paper became a valued commodity, and the time encased in our homes with family was a blessing in disguise?
Will we be changed by our experience in 2020, imprinted like my parents were in 1929?
I believe we will learn things about ourselves, like how we focus on lesser things when what is most valuable is right before us.
When the world returns to a normal status, I hope it won’t be business as usual. I hope we remember what matters. People are the most important treasure. Small irritations are not worth the upset. We really can invent new ways of doing things. Sharing what we have blesses the giver and receiver. Prayers are to be prayed for our leaders. Church is not the building where we gather. Loving one another is still the second greatest commandment.
Maybe we will even keep one flip-flop, just in case we might need it.