COVID-19 and Hygge

The world is on lock-down.

I know you know this. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know this — and maybe even then, you know this. I’m not telling you anything novel (unlike COVID-19, which apparently is quite novel, and the reason for this season of lock-down we’re all in the midst of).

I also know you’re maybe a little like me, and maybe you watched, in disbelief, as Disneyland announced they were temporarily closing, and then Walt Disney World, our most magical place, shut its doors. And then, because you get all the e-mails, you realized every cruise line was suspending the next 30 days of departures. And then your inbox was suddenly flooded by every sort of business you’d ever given your e-mail address to, all giving you the low-down on their own lock-down procedures, all exhibiting a collective “abundance of caution”, everywhere from Amazon.com and the online site from which you buy your cleaning supplies, to the place from which you’ve never bought so much as a cup of tea, and the shop for whose newsletter you signed up for just the once twelve years ago to get a discount code on the bottle of shampoo you never even used.

They were all putting plans into effect. All of them.

Meanwhile, you’re being told to stay home, practice social distancing, socialize only online and via FaceTime meetings — but for the love of all that is holy, don’t go anywhere, not even to the grocery store if you can help it. (They don’t have any toilet paper there anyway, so … )

On Friday, when everything started shutting down and I was feeling bewildered, feeling anxiety clawing for attention just under the surface of my growing awareness, I wondered what on earth we were expected to do for fourteen days. Of course it was essential for the well-being of humanity, and I was totally on board with social distancing and self–quarantining for the benefit of all …. but what on earth was I going to do for the next two weeks?!?

It’s felt daunting. It’s felt a little scary. Ok, a few times it’s felt more than just a little scary.

But I’m the sort of person who feels what she feels (even if what she feels is the sky falling all around her), but then she wipes her face, blows her nose (because obviously she’s been crying), and asks herself, “ok, what’s next?”

And I didn’t come up empty — and you don’t have to either.

Lest you begin to think this is just another “here’s what you can do during this time of forced Introversion”, I want to assure you, this post is not that. Not at all. It’s actually something I’ve been thinking on for many months, long before Coronavirus was a twinkle on the horizon of human observance.

Sabbath.

Hygge.

Rest.

Call it whatever you like, in complete frankness and 100% honesty, I confess to you here and now that I — the queen of “vacation”, the woman who is always looking for her next Big Fix of Adventure, the gal with an expert travel plan for herself (and all of her clients to boot) —

I’ve needed a solid breather.

I’ve needed, more than anything, permission to stop, drop, and exhale. I’ve craved the closing of my eyes and quieting of my mind. I’ve desired the ability to exercise the Art of the Pause.

And I have a sneaking suspicion you have too.

Last night, as I snuggled into my covers, with my husband by my side, the glow of my MacBook displaying the wonders of Netflix streaming before us, I had a momentary feeling of absolute peace, a sensation of complete calm — and contentment. Yes, in that moment, that blink of an eye, I realized I had all of my children under one roof again (due to school closures), my husband’s comforting warmth near me, and every pleasure and blessing a person could dream of at my fingertips, and I realized how good it was, this social distancing thing, how very …

holy

I had wanted, several months back to blog about “hygge”, the Scandinavian practice of enjoying Winter — that time of repose, of comfort and rest, of warmth against an isolating cold — but I had been much too busy living life to write about this marvel of Nordic culture, much less live it out. Winter brought the holidays, and the holidays brought what we travel agents call “The Wave Season” (where everyone is going stir crazy so they begin to plan their next getaway), and that brought with it frozen dinners from store freezer aisles, and dusty surfaces from a too-busy-to-tidy me, and elements of stress that were vital to the very existence of my paycheck, of my clients’ happiness, of the very living out of Life.

But then …. a virus … and a world on the edge of its seat, feeling a collective unease, and then anxiety — not over the usual stuff we stress over, but as a growing concern for our fellow human, and for ourselves. And then —

The world is on lock-down.

And now that the dust is settling, I’m realizing this — this right here — is hygge, this day, this now’ness. This is the permission — nay, the command — to slow down.

to brew the hot cuppa tea, leisurely stirring in a drizzle of honey and a splash of milk

to feel the pleasure of a book’s pages on the tips of my fingers

to lounge on the lanai, feet soaking in the (not-quite-yet-warm-enough-but-almost-warm-enough) pool, listening to the crows in the trees overhead

to make well-planned family meals from whole ingredients, and to savor the taste of every shared mouthful

to dust off boardgames and enjoy the thrill of rolling dice, the trilling of familial laughter

to bake brownies from scratch, inhale the rich aroma, and wash the sticky-sweetness down with a glass of cold milk

to cast on 194 stitches and feel the wool yarn slipping along cool knitting needles

to sleep a little later in the mornings and not dash around to get everyone where they’re supposed to be

to linger just a little longer over lunch, enjoying a second cup of coffee or an extra glass of ice water

to catch up on T.V. shows that until now you’ve only read about in Facebook posts written by your peers

to feel the sunshine on your face and the warming breeze on your skin

It’s delicious, this Life thing. It’s a miraculous wonder.

I know we won’t forever be in quarantine. I know the “curve” will “flatten”, and we will return to our lives of hustle and bustle, of business and action — and sincerely, those times of productivity and purpose are every bit a part of the aforementioned miraculous wonder.

But my sincerest prayer is, once we return to what we were, we take with us a bit of what we are, now. With feet planted firmly in this present darkness, I hope we intentionally embrace the light, and carry it with us into tomorrow.

I know that’s what I plan to do. How about you?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Bobbie Jean says:

    This has to be the one post that should be read around the world. The world seems to have lost its way and needs a time to slow down, relax and appreciate the benefits of being introverted for a while. Why being alone with one’s self and our basic core of family frightens too many us is frightening in and of itself. People weren’t this frightened during hurricane Katrina. It’s the fear of the unknown that grips us and hold us hardest. And we need to let that go. Your post is the balm our inflamed imaginations need. This is all pretty much life as usual for me. I am trying to understand the panic and fear though.

    I wonder how people managed during the Spanish Influenza pandemic. They didn’t have social media and not everyone had access to newspapers or radio. News (and with the flu) was passed on by word of mouth. I wonder if it was considered racist back then to call the pandemic “Spanish?” My how times change.

    Thanks for sharing our thoughts. I will pass them on via links to anyone willing to listen. 😀

    Be well.

    Like

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