My sweet husband came up from behind me to offer me an unexpected but much needed hug. He looked around to make sure no one was looking (as if he would get in trouble) and quickly wrapped his arms around my waist. Much too quickly, he let go. With a wrinkled-up nose and a disappointed voice, he asked, “Have you been cleaning again?” Like a small innocent child, I looked up to him and replied, “I swear I haven’t. I think I am sweating Clorox now.” We both began to laugh at what had become our new norm in this time of the coronavirus.
Yes, Florida, a state vexed with dangerous hurricanes, dog-eating alligators, and countless, crazy “FLORIDA MAN” tales has a new norm. A norm that now consists of countless experts studying model after model, using every tool in their colossal mathematical textbooks, medicine and science journals, and history toolboxes to predict the COVID-19 chaos still to come. A new norm where finding toilet paper is like being Charlie and finding the golden ticket to the chocolate factory. A norm where we can work from home in our pajamas (okay, maybe that part is not all that bad) and where bras are optional if you don’t have any Zoom conference calls. A norm that consists of anxiety and worry when you cough, even when you know it is just allergies.
I certainly do not want to make light of this new norm we are all facing. I personally know of someone who has been put on a ventilator fighting for their next breath. I know others who have been furloughed from their jobs and are trying to figure out how long their savings will last. And our first responders, healthcare workers, and other essential employees who are risking their own lives to keep things going – these folks are my heroes. I know I am lucky. I can sit at home (sometimes I admit in my pajamas) and write. My kids are older and able to handle the virtual world of eLearning just fine without me having to get any extra grey hairs (which is a good thing considering who knows how long before I will see my hairdresser). The thing is, like many people, I hate feeling not in control, not sure what is going to happen next, emotionally lost, vulnerable, and raw. But the other day, while sitting outside trying to escape my family, I mean getting some fresh air, I realized some things.
It’s spring! My plants that were dormant before have started to bloom. Beautiful buds of yellow, white, red, pink, and purple have busted out begging for thick-headed people like me to just stop and notice. Amid all this craziness, spring flowers are still blooming. As I stared at my garden, a sense of calm came over me. Perhaps this time of chaos and uncertainty is about forcing us to stop and literally smell the flowers and appreciate their mere existence. I started to think even more about our current situation and my garden.
Just like we can’t really control when a seed will sprout, we too have little control over many things currently going on. Sure, we can follow procedures and guidelines, make sure those flowers get lots of water and sun, but we have little control over when and if that bud will appear. No amount of worry or anxiety will change that, either. But we do have control over how we choose to react to things. We can continue to fight these negative feelings and just end up making ourselves feel more frustrated, or we can feel our feels … then move on and concentrate on other parts of our garden we can do things about. We can weed, cut back branches, fertilize. And when flowers do pop up, because eventually they always do, we can make a conscious effort to stop and not just notice them but appreciate them. The colors will seem so much more vibrant, their smell so much more fragrant.
There is no doubt that these have been some very hard times, and we still may have more to come. That said, SPRING FLOWERS ARE STILL BLOOMING … and before we know it, we will be able to invite people back into our gardens to enjoy them with us. Because we all know that flowers smell a lot better than Clorox!