I’ve always been a planner.
From the grade-school birthday plans scrawled out in Crayola marker to the battered red agenda that carried me through my high school days, I’ve always loved to take a blank sheet of paper and fill it with ideas—ideas of what I could do that day, that week, that year. For me, it wasn’t so much about structure or a sense of control as it was about the ideas, the anticipation of future days full of excitement and interest.
Lately, I’ve had to put that particular pastime on hold. As COVID-19 has lengthened school closures and city shutdowns from days to weeks, I’ve had to let go of a few things I’ve anticipated for months, even years. But more than that, I’ve had to let go of planning. As Grace Stark observes in a piece coming this week: “There will come a day when you can make plans again, but today is not that day.”
This week, we’re going to hear from some women whose plans have been interrupted, from rescheduling a long-anticipated wedding to moving a master’s degree offsite to the experience of a military wife who has had to roll with the punches time and time again. There’s even a window into a deeper experience of interruption: a childhood marked by a parent’s alcoholism. Interruption comes in many forms, and it isn’t restricted to the time of COVID.
Perhaps this is a moment for us to realize that life continues even when plans come to a halt. We’re seeing beautiful acts of human solidarity in this crisis, and our lives are going on—just in a form that’s different from what we anticipated. My neighborhood is chockablock with chalk drawings that children otherwise wouldn’t have had time to draw. The new form of greeting is stepping six feet to the side and letting the other walker use the sidewalk, and somehow it feels warmer and kinder than the perfunctory “hello” I used to throw out while on a run.
One day in the future, when they take the tape off the grocery-store floors and open up all the churches again, we might just look back and realize that we really were living all along, even though at the time our lives felt like one big interruption. It might not have been what we expected, but it can still be good.
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