The Upside of Downside Up

It’s only slightly dramatic to say the pandemic saved my life. 2019, the year before all hell broke loose, was a hard one for me. My father died, and the process of walking him to the exit weighed more heavily on me than I knew. At the same time, I felt I was behind the proverbial eight ball at work, doing my best to pull my weight but always feeling like I was failing. I was coaching kids’ soccer several nights a week. I was basically trying to do everything, and the sense that none of it was going well pervaded most of my waking hours.

None of that was going to kill me, but I was much closer to my psycho-emotional breaking point than I realized at the time.

My brother got cancer next, and then my mother too. My brother died in early 2020, as the pandemic was ramping up, and then I abandoned/lost my job. I was good with that. I couldn’t keep doing all the things I was doing. The pandemic gave me a plausible excuse to shut it down for a while.

I’m lucky. I know this. Nothing that happened gave me financial stress, and my wife and kids remained healthy. I was able to hunker down and decompress, to pay attention to the things that mattered, like taking care of my family (and myself).

I used that time to write, to ride bikes, to do a lot of trail running, to hang with my mom as she navigated chemo, to work around the house and regain some sense of control over my day-to-day.

I know humanity has needed to move past Covid-19. I understand that its been an awful time for most people, and that finally being able to remove masks, go back to work/school, and see friends again is an immeasurable relief.

I see more traffic on the roads. I feel the pressure to do things ramping up. Life is returning to a frenzied normal.

This is the downside of the up. Does it mean so many of the folks who rediscovered riding bikes and walking in the woods will disappear back into their routines? Is that the upside of my down?

So many people were traumatized by the shutdown. Fear and anxiety grew, turned to a depressive boredom and frustration, and finally found release in vaccination and the reopening of the world, at least where I live. I’m feeling fear and anxiety now, dreading I’ll be swept back up into the frenzy of a lifestyle I couldn’t sustain before.

I wonder for how many the pandemic has been the catalyst for a midlife crisis, career interrupted, priorities reassessed, real hardships endured. I wonder what we’re all going to look like on the other side of this thing.

I’m taking a break from running now. I need a week or two to get my body back together. I’ve resisted the urge to write endlessly about injuries and getting older. Even I’m bored with that crap. Still, the extra sitting still leaves me in this reflective mood, which probably isn’t good for anyone, especially me.