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2020: Year of the Pause
2020: Year of the Pause

2020: Year of the Pause

Fermata? Ceasure?

I mean, since harmony is my word of the year, I should consider this <vague hysterical waving> to be a pause of some sort, yes? A moment in the musical weaving of my life in which things…wait. But is it a moment like a fermata, in which we hold on to the note a few extra beats before moving on? Or a moment like the ceasure, which is a complete release and pause full of anticipatory silence before resuming? Call it fermata or ceasure, this year is one giant hol’up.

I used to feel as though life was an out of control treadmill, and wondered if I stood in just the right spot, threw up my hands, and screamed STOP! with all the power of my soul, if I could get it to slow down. I never found that spot, I never cried out from the depths of my soul, but that treadmill has come to a slamming stop and we are cartwheeling off of it every which way.

How’re you doing? Got a grip on that last inch of fraying rope? One scream from blowing out your vocal cords? Yeah, me too. We’ve been out of school for eight weeks now, under a stay-at-home order for about as long. Strangely enough, not a whole lot has changed for us. Tom is still working from home, Andy’s job easily transitioned to telecommuting, and Jack went from on his computer whenever home to….on his computer doing school while always home. It’s not as though our lives left skid marks when the world stood on the brakes in March; we’re living pretty much the same way we were back then.


Except now, when I venture out to get groceries, there is this palpable sense of fear and waiting. Waiting and fear. Equal measures. It’s rare to see someone smile, as though that would bring the virus to their door as retribution. How dare thee allow the corners of thy mouth to rise in an upward fashion! I SMITE THEE!!! I try to be lighthearted and fail miserably. It’s tough to be cheerful when you’re damn near suffocating through an ill-fitting mask that fogs up your glasses, knowing that when you get home you have to wash your groceries in the garage before you can shower off the flop sweat borne of fear.

Except now, my library books have no due date.
Except now, I’m teaching band online.
Except now, if I get to see my parents, it’s at a distance and masked up.
Except now, all future plans are on hold.

Paused. Fermata or ceasure? Hold before continuing or a full stop before starting up again?

When I give presentations on self-care I emphasize building a toolbox of skills and plans you can use to keep yourself functioning in times of stress and crisis. I’ve honed mine over many years, and I’m finding that nearly every one of them is useless right now. Time alone in my house? Nope. Time alone with my husband? Yes, and we’re also getting sick of each other. Time with my flute? Not when someone is inevitably on a video call during the day and you’re exhausted at night. Time playing in band, weaving magic from the air, connecting emotionally with others? That realization shimmied past all my mental defenses and gut-punched me a few weeks ago: large groups breathing deeply together are off the table for awhile. My self-care toolbox needs updated tools for this new convoluted life.

I wish I had some sense of what the future holds, but I got nothin’. I just know that at some point we went flying past a mildly disturbing minor key into full atonal cacophony and now we’re sitting here in this grand pause, not so patiently waiting for it to end. Interesting interlude in the harmony I’m weaving of my life.




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