We have a yellow indicator in our car. It tells us when there is approximately 30 miles left to drive before we run out of gas. It hasn’t come on in 6 weeks—we haven’t driven much in 6 weeks. Bonnie and I work from home; there is a grocery store within walking distance (and since I can’t play in my noon-ball basketball game, I need some exercise); we have a school and a park across the street from our house; we have driven to In-N-Out a few times when we don’t want to cook. Both of our cars are on the older side, so we have to do some regular maintenance…check the fluids, tire pressure, and oil to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
I wish that I had a yellow indicator light in my personal life. Something that might alert me that I have 30 miles left until I’m on empty. Last week I started to sputter. If you have ever run out of gas you know the feeling…something is not right…drive a little further and hope it goes away; the sputter…what is going on? The glance at the dashboard and the needle hovering over the E. Then, the silent drift to the shoulder of the road. Nothing left. It’s only happened to me once, on a trip home from college with my best friend. We pushed our car to someone’s nearby house. It was a farm, so of course they had extra gas; and it was Montana so they wouldn’t let us pay for it. We were on our way again.
Back to my own sputter…More tired than normal, less productive, a bit of a grouch, just wanting to watch something, not wanting to be around people. We tried to do something simple on Saturday evening. We were going to grab some dinner and take our Covid-19 family hackey-sack game to a park. Within 5 minutes of sitting down for a small picnic, the police came by and we were told we could only be there if we were doing something “active.” We asked about playing hackey-sack and they said sure; We jumped up and started to play (if you are following this blog regularly, our family is up to 9 hacks in a row—that is nine passes to another person and everyone has to pass it to another at least twice +1). Within 10 minutes, some other security folks came by and said that hackey-sack wasn’t on “the list,” but we could do yoga. I’m not against yoga, just not me…in public…doing any pose. That’s not good for anybody. We went home.
On Sunday morning, we had to watch our nephew get married on Zoom. We were supposed to be there to cheer and welcome in a new member of the family. Nope–We used the hand-clap emoji instead ?. Lame. We were going to go for a short hike on Mother’s Day, but after our Saturday night experience we bailed. Nothing seems easy these days and I’m getting restless.
I haven’t quite hit “E” yet, but I am definitely sputtering. I am trying to do all the maintenance things: make sure to connect with God and pray, hang out with my family, exercise, eat healthy (with an occasional Nutter Butter), get enough time alone, talk to friends. I wish it was as easy as pulling into a gas station and filling up or finding a friendly farmer (is there another kind?) who has a little extra to give. But we are not machines and there isn’t a tidy formula for moving the needle back to full.
I have a few friends who are pastors and religious leaders. They have told me that my experience is not out of the ordinary. It has been 8 weeks of sheltering in place and social distancing (at least here in California) and more people are fraying at the edges. It is harder to manage our normal stresses and struggles with the increased stress of all that is going on in the background. So, I have decided to do something a little counter-intuitive this week. I’m going to try to be the farmer—giving away any extra that I have. If someone pops into my mind, I’m going to try to reach out in some way—a simple text, an email, a FB message, a call, saying “hi” to a neighbor over the fence, etc…I don’t know if it will work…I don’t think I know what “work” actually means in this instance. But, if my pastor friends are right, then other people are in the same boat as I am—maybe it will be better for all of us to just know that we aren’t in that boat alone.
Photography by Bonnie Sanders