You ask me how I’ve been?
How have I been in the last seven months… now that’s a loaded question. 2020 has been quite a shocking year, to say the least, and I know I am not the only one acutely feeling this. In fact, I know I am not even close to feeling how bad this year very well could have been, and is, for many others.
The year started with great friends, and intermediate expectations for the coming 365 days, nothing crazy other than re-balancing my life to begin a new Masters Program. That’s right, my employer is reimbursing me to be educated by them as long as I work for them for 2 years. The decision to get my Master’s was a slowly developed one. I knew I had a sweet window of opportunity to enroll in a program before I was at Walden too long and didn’t want to stay a full two years, but was also cautious of making a rash decision and feeling rushed to commit to a new career path. Food Systems is a love I hold so dearly in my heart, but it is one that will not get me a job right now. Higher Education seems to suit me in the sense that I get to work with people, but not too many people. I get to coach and assist, I get to be an expert in some topic, mastering all that is required of me in order to relay that information for others. I get to continue on my personal path of learning and embrace that passion I have let grow in me organically. It’s also stable in the sense that many American’s need higher education degrees, but changing enough to allow for innovation to meet market demands. It seems to be a fit for me that was never made clear until my job at Walden fell in my lap. I think back to how resistant I was to take the job at the beginning… little did I know what was in store for me. I fought the idea of a corporate setting, but now see there is some beauty in the consistency of a desk every day.
My school program has been good! I very genuinely feel engaged and immersed in my learning, and while the work is hard (aka writing 30-page papers occasionally) it was manageable for the first full quarter. I was also balancing my school time with yoga twice a week, and rock climbing with a new group I found through church. I was getting stronger and feeling very grounded. I started volunteering at church services as well, attempting to rekindle this firefly relationship with God that had been lacking for some time. I was really trying to do the most in the first months of the year and was succeeding, but quickly learned the lesson again that I cannot cram my schedule with things in order to feel fulfilled. I tried to taper off some activities until March came unexpectedly with COVID and forced me (and everyone) to drop everything.
I suddenly was working from home full time (thank God I just bought a desk for school otherwise I would have been working at the kitchen table all this time) and prematurely had signed up for two classes at the same time, thinking since the first to had gone so well I could manage. My, how wrong I was. With COVID, the very nature of my job changed entirely, with all our policies flying out the window and our entire department working overtime for weeks. With the addition of two classes, I was staring at a computer screen 10-11 hours almost every day while trying to emotionally cope with the stress of the unknown nature of the virus. I am not naive in that my onslaught of work would have been welcomed by many who were forced out of their jobs, and have no hope of being re-employed anytime in the near future. I know how lucky I am and that’s why I didn’t want others to know I felt like I was drowning, because what place did I really have?
I pulled through, my student’s term start came, my classes ended, and I am still standing. However, I’ve decided to take some time off school now in order to catch my breath. I’ll resume in the Fall.
Additionally, my work has now announced that we have been moved to working remotely permanently and we’ve all cleaned out our cubes, so that’s fun and different. I’m feeling pretty relaxed about it at this point, knowing if my team can get through the craziest term to date remotely, we can do pretty much anything.
Speaking of drowning, or rather… suffocating, our nation, and world’s eyes were on my city as everyone watched the murder of George Floyd caught on camera. The city burned as the pressure from centuries of racial inequality were amplified from not only this one man’s death but the death of so many innocent people in this “modern age”. In those moments, my heart was heavy with emotions I couldn’t place or name, but again I sat understanding my privilege, this time more clearly than ever before, to be witnessing this all from a white person’s perspective. For the first time, I and many around me had an opportunity to sit down and examine how a lifetime of education, societal norms, cultural references, and media had formed biases within our hearts and minds, affecting the way we perceived and treated people of color.
To this, for many weeks, I simply had nothing to say. How could I? What could I say? Are there even words for something like this? Most people would argue no, and that’s why they chose action instead. Protesting and exercising their First Amendment rights in order to facilitate change throughout the nation. I’ve never felt such pride and guilt to have come from Minneapolis before. Guilt in myself, neighbors, schools, and newsrooms to have let something as sinful as racism into my heart, but pride for the action taken by others to 1) acknowledge their bias 2) take action to make a change and 3) come together in such an uncertain time in order to clean up the city and make their message known.
Last night I had a Big Cry where I finally sat down with God and chatted about all the things that had been happening. Finally, put some words to the ache in my heart but also felt very frustrated at the idea of “fighting for what’s right”. Isn’t that what everyone’s doing? Very few people in the world fight for what is knowingly wrong, and if they are, most times it’s done out of fear. The idea of having something be undeniably right is becoming much more of an abstract thought for me, how can we really know?
I’ve also been watching videos of people denying the coronavirus exists and get genuinely angry at others about it. Is this fear? This act of sticking one’s head in the sand? These videos have pretty deeply rocked me and stolen this sense of pride I had around our fleeting moment of unity. Now, the fissures between us seem greater than ever. This scares me.
A great bit of positivity though, in April I met a man named Tony. He and I have now been seeing each other for three months. He is intellectual, outgoing, adventurous, and kind. So while yoga and rock climbing have been put on hold, he and I have been going outside at every opportunity to hike, bike, walk, camp, and canoe. He has been quite an amazing highlight through all this and I have been very lucky and thankful to have him. I’m trying not to jinx anything.
My relationship with God has fully taken a back burner as life on Earth has taken so much of my immediate attention and energy. My perception of right and wrong is blurred and therefore so is my faithful belief in some concepts within the church. This is something I’ll need to sit down with soon and explore more, but right now I need to take a breath from the church and understand the difference between them and the Lord.
So what do we do now moving forward? Things are as unknown as ever. Somehow we keep placing one foot in front of the other, breathing and surviving onto the next day. Forging ahead until we see the light.