I’ve decided to start referring to the current reality of time and appointments and routine (or the lack thereof, in many cases) as the Etch-a-Schedule. You know…like an Etch-a-Sketch. In the days before self-isolation and sheltering in place, we had plans. Do you remember those plans? Did you happen to take a picture of them before they got held up in the air and vigorously shaken?
Did you feel frustration or relief at holding a blank Etch-a-Schedule in your hands? If you’re like me, maybe a guilt-laced, bewildering combination of the two?
The truth is, there was a lot of excitement coursing through me in those first few days. There was more to do than ever, but the old ways weren’t going to work anymore. It was if suddenly I had to wrap my thumbs and forefingers around those two little knobs at the bottom of the screen and draw something magnificent and complex. Like, the Mona Lisa or something. When before all I’d ever known how to draw were 2D Mayan temples.
(For the record, that really is pretty much all I could draw on an Etch-a-Sketch as a child. Up and to the right. Up and to the right. Up and to the right. Straight across. Down and to the right… I wish I’d thought to at least call them 2D Mayan temples at the time. That might have been more impressive-sounding than, “Look! Lines!”)
I don’t know about you, but for me whatever level of strange excitement those early days of social distancing life held has pretty much worn off. But I’m really not all that frustrated anymore, either. I’m settling in, truthfully. I’m settling in to something I have no desire to settle in to. But I also have no desire to go back to 2D Mayan temples. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at drawing the Mona Lisa. Wouldn’t going back be a little bit like asking Leonardo da Vinci to follow up the Mona Lisa with paper dolls? (Yes, I am Leonardo da Vinci in this analogy. Start your own blog and then youcan be the one with delusions of grandeur and an over-inflated sense of self. Everyone should try it. It’s fun!)
Whatever we had scheduled before? Gone.
Flights reserved and hotels booked? Cancelled.
Regular weekly meetings? Restructured.
And soon…when, no one knows, but soon…our Etch-a-Schedules are going to be held up in the air, shaken vigorously, and handed back to us once again. The Mona Lisa will be gone. What’s more, the Mona Lisa won’t quite fit the situation anymore. But 2D Mayan temples will be as archaic and incongruous as finding Clorox wipes in a grocery store. (I mean, can you even imagine?! How antiquated.)
There’s going to be so much to figure out, but all I know for sure is that we can’t afford to lose the knowledge we pick up along the way through all of this. The gift of time, the blessing of perspective, the curse of fear, the realization of just how extraordinary the ordinary can be…
We can’t allow ourselves to forget the lessons learned, whatever they are. They’ll change us. We have to allow them to change us.
After all…we now know how to draw the Mona Lisa. Just imagine what we might do next.