Gain Some, Lose Some in One Year

Rose, Flowers, Roses, Flower, Red Roses, Love, Feelings

Feelings. They sometimes hurt, other times delight. Many times confuse. Either way, I understand it’s good to express them. So, let’s talk. Feel free to jump in.

What Was Lost this Past Year

In my previous post, I wrote about what was gained during the past year. But what was lost? The passive tone here is intentional, as I feel we all lost something, as individuals and as a society.

Lives, too many lives were lost. The deadliest year on record in the U.S., according to Keiser Health.

If you were able to keep away from social media and arguments, congratulations. Don’t mean to sound flippant.

I did not fare as well.

My list of virtual friends (not sure that is the proper word) is smaller. So be it.

Faced with for and against arguments, tribalism and narcissism flourished. A cursory glance would be enough to see that from the moon. We all became experts in subjects foreign to us months prior.   

New political sectarianism is one of the greatest national security issues in the world, according the UN. We are forming tribes and going at each other with little remorse. Never mind the adults, I see tension-ridden political conversations among teenagers in my son’s group, not a thing in years past.

Why?

Know any highly opinionated people? If not head over to any social-media site. Caring deeply gives us strong opinions, sure, but there is more. At times, it feels as though outside forces are moving us, like a puppeteer his puppets. I no longer recognized people I knew well. In my most honest moments, I no longer recognize myself.  

There is a political truism out there: when there is unrest look at who benefits if you want to trace its source and reason. Having come of age in Eastern Europe, a hotbed for political unrest and two world wars, it’s hard not to see the same old political forces at play, only more subtle, more tech savvy.

Of course, agreement doesn’t always bring alignment. At least one group I belong to, people of similar minds, turned on each other recently.  If you are A you must not be B, and having uttered this word makes you C. Tolerance is running low among friends as well. The argumentative personality seems to be the dominant trait everywhere I turn. 

It’s the early days. Too early to tell how this ideological war among the highly opinionated will shape the world but look for the world to be different within the next decade or sooner.

I take refuge in long conversations with my mom, who at the age of 80 has seen a lot in her days. She tells me the world is going through growing pains. She’d seen worse. The world, she assures me, will adjust and everything will be okay.  I smile, thinking, Yeah, that’s what I would tell my son, whether or not I believe it.

It’s what mothers do.

Flower, Rose, Petals, Purple Rose, Purple Flower
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photos: pixabay

Gain Some, Lose Some in One Year

One year hiding away from the world, and in some ways I’ve gained several years.

My entire adult life has been jam-packed with work, school, and for years both work and school at the same time. No complaints, as that’s what I wanted as a kid in Eastern Europe, when imagining my future. I wanted possibility.

As time went on, responsibilities piled on like plates juggled on a stick. Three plates, five plates, ten, twenty. We kept juggling, keep spinning. When the occasional plate hit the floor, we worked hard to clean up and get back to juggling.   

We learned to live with demands. For me, coming from a place of limited – or non-existent – possibilities, work demands were a blessing. We learned to tell ourselves: this is how it must be.   

It gets tiring though. Not only physically, but demand after demand can tire the soul.

Then, last year life came to a halt.

It felt jarring at first. Impossible to adjust after a lifetime of doing it all on the move – family, work, hobbies, a social existence.  

Working partially from home gave me time to discover parts of life I’d only glimpsed in passing. For a whole year, I no longer had to divide myself into pieces to reach every corner of my life. Pretty much everything was now happening between my living room, dining room, and kitchen – every family member in attendance.

Longer-than-ever walks helped me rediscover the neighborhood. Both pictures on this post are from my walks.

Like everyone the world over, we had to cancel everything.

We cancelled usually rushed trips to Eastern Europe — two weeks to adjust, see family who took us for rested party-ready tourists, fit in a trip to the Black Sea, maybe Transylvania, then fly home and get back into the routine. Sure, we had a blast when not overcome by fatigue delirium.  

For all the challenging moments this past year, I am grateful beyond reason for every second with my family. I’m grateful for every nanosecond, for every billionth of a second, for every moment that at times seemed longer than an hour.

I am grateful for the time sitting around debating the news, talking about work and school, about teachers and subjects, for lazing around with a book, for the quiet times. For the loud times. Occasionally, my tolerance level was shut. There were short moments of panic when I asked myself: would I ever exist outside my home?

I was forced to discover that even the obnoxious moments in a teen’s life are moments I want to experience because my baby – term he hates – will be an adult soon. Here we were – my husband and I – given a chance to slow down time during the last couple of years of our baby’s childhood. A chance to watch him drive for the first time. A chance to teach him things despite his protests.

We had nothing but time. Days upon days, every time of the day. In a year fraught with anxiety triggers, I am grateful for that time.

Next post in Gain Some, Lose Some: What Was Lost.

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Photos credit: @Silvia Villalobos

Resistance and Adaptation

Karate, Sun, Mountain, Sunset, Fight

One of the first things we learn about babies is that they are resilient. Meaning we start building resilience at an early stage in life, ready to deal with challenges. Ready to adapt.  

If we take the long view, we are rapidly adjusting to a changing world. Scientists call this our plasticity – the capacity to bend and mold.

Where there is Adaptation, there is Resistance.

While a year is not a long duration, it’s been interesting watching our behavior during the pandemic, when our ability to bend and mold was called upon. Tough times reveal who we are, right? As individuals and as society.

Much of what’s been happening is shaped by political views, sure. We form tribes. Yet, even some of the hardest politicos among us – those raging against science – are quietly looking out for their health (distancing, vaccine). On a personal level, the majority of us believe the scientific findings. It’s just that conventional findings don’t always align with political views.

Of course, there are those who practice what they preach. They have not, do not, and will not believe the science. Or they line up behind unofficial medical views. More, they see what’s happening as an infringement on liberty. On their right to do as they please.

Ring Necked Parakeet, Parrot, Bird

Resistance and Adaptation.

Is that what we’re going through now? A transitional time between the forces of resistance and adaptation? If so, I wonder what might come of it – advancements or setbacks? Or just bad memories?

It wouldn’t be the first time this happens, if we look at past pandemics and the way people reacted then. Science tells us that we are hardwired to resist change.

Part of the brain – the amygdala – interprets change as a threat. Loss of control – Scientific American

It’s difficult to live with something for so long then be told to adapt. Change begins to look like a threat and someone must be blamed.

Someone Must be Blamed.

That’s the scary part. Historically, someone was always blamed during hard times. There is latent hostility in society, constantly there, just below the surface. In trying times, latent hostility manifests as full-blown hatred toward … someone. A way of saying no to change.

Resistance and Adaptation.

Are we in a transition phase? The growing pains of adaptation, maybe?

credit: Pixabay

Martisor or Trinket

Martisor, Hello March, Martenica

Martisor is an old Romanian tradition celebrated on March 1st.  The name is a diminutive of March (Martie in Romanian).

The tradition, as the tale goes, started with a red and white string. The person who wore the string, attached to a trinket, would enjoy a healthy and prosperous year. Not to mention the decorative look. I’d wear it for the beauty of it alone. It can be worn in a variety of ways, but most wear it as a brooch.

Mărţişor | Reading After Midnight | Reading After Midnight

According to archeological research, Martisor traces its history some 8000 years ago. Long time, isn’t it? Some researchers believe it has Roman origins, others think it’s an old Dacian tradition (Dacians are the ancestors of modern Romanians).

In old times, Martisors were made of river pebbles, painted in red and white. Good luck, good weather, good health and everything good came to those who wore them.  

I remember in primary school, friends gifting one another the trinkets, pinning them on our lapels, giggling as we admired their colors and shapes. They come in a number of shapes nowadays, from ladybugs to guitars to anything the designer can think of – one more creative than the next.

Martisor, Martisoare, 1 Martie, March 1

I always loved Martisor time, happy in the knowledge good times were ahead since winter was just about gone and spring awaited around the corner.

Over the years, I haven’t kept up with the tradition, but I’m reminded of it every year when the occasional Martisor arrives in the mail.

Tell me your favorite, or least favorite, tradition.


Photo credit: pixabay, reading after midnight