On Quarantine and Quieter Moments
In Italian there is a saying, fare una pausa. Beautiful and comforting is the literal translation, to make a pause. Some of it’s magic is lost a bit in the bossier English translation, take a break.
Taking a break is fleeting, impermanent. A quick return to the tasks at hand. But to fare una pausa, well, that feels different. It’s breathing, deeply. It’s stepping off for long enough to really rest, to clear your head. To re-energize. To fare una pausa, in my mind anyhow, is to stop long enough to fill your spirit. To rejubilate, as Daughter used to say in her younger days, a combination evoking the jubilee of rejoicing and rejuvenation.
In this exceptional time in our history, living with the world shut down, certainly there has been the constant nagging of worry. Quiet and steady worry is a way of life, for me anyway, with particular focus on microbes. But in this moment, my worry, our worry, is valid.
My heart is divided up between so much right now. Probably yours is too? Worry for the health and safety of our family and friends, and for humanity across the world. Sadness for those who are suffering, are sick, and dying. Anxiety for health care workers, on the front lines of this war; anxiety for all those getting up and doing their jobs everyday in essential industries, to make sure their fellow citizens have access to food, medicine, deliveries, mail. I ache for the thousands (millions?) of people suffering from food insecurity, job loss, loneliness. I wish I could comfort the exhausted parents juggling working from home and homeschooling their kiddos, teachers juggling teaching from home and homeschooling their kiddos. And whomever else I have surely missed but want to name here, please whisper a prayer for them now, sending forth strength to help them through.
But also, in the midst of it all, and given that, in this moment, everyone in my circle is feeling well (🤞), there is a feeling of peace. Of being able to take a breath, to enjoy the calm. To fare una pausa. Una pausa grandissima. There is an opportunity like never before, for a great re-evaluation. The sensitive introvert in me is really grateful for this moment of recharge, although I feel hesitant saying it, and guilty for putting it in writing for all to see.
“…the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped…” writes Julio Vincent Gambuto in his popular essay on Medium. “I hope you might consider this: what happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound…What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped… And because it is rarer than rare, it has brought to light all of the beautiful and painful truths of how we live.”
And that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about. How we live. How I lived, then; how I live now. Now is walking every day, sometimes for miles. Now is connecting with Daughter, much deeper and more often: cooking together, laughing at Brooklyn Nine-Nine every night, and just old fashioned talking. Now is books, plenty of them, every single day. And more writing, more meditation, more prayers. No longer do these things come last, squeezed into leftover moments. How does one stay here, in this quiet and spiritual space, when the world opens up again? How can we be more mindful, more deliberate, about what we bring back into our lives?
And there it is, in Gambuto’s words as well. “From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life.…We are a good people. And as a good people, we want to define — on our own terms — what this country looks like in five, 10, 50 years. This is our chance to do that, the biggest one we have ever gotten. And the best one we’ll ever get.”
It’s making space, every day going forward, for the pause.
Hoping that you are staying safe and well. Blessings.
A special thank you to Jenny’s Lark, whose work always inspires me.