To live fully and consistently in the day at hand has been an elusive goal for me. I’ve managed to do so for occasional brief periods of time, but in retrospect I was mostly pretending.
I don’t think I ever fully accomplished the practice of living in the moment. As I skated through the eighth decade of my life — “skated” may not be the most appropriate word here, but I like the way it sounds — and experienced a gradually diminishing future, the notion of focusing on the day at
hand became increasingly important. I tried to cultivate the proper mindset, but somehow the future always managed to find a way in. I finally accepted the fact that that was how it was going to be, and as a compromise promised myself to do my best to limit my future related ponderings to a six- to 12-month time frame. I was resigned to my fate, until COVID-19 appeared.
In response to the
pandemic, my wife Patience and I joined millions of
others in quarantining ourselves for as long as it would be necessary. Being both retired and a working artist, in some ways I have been sheltering at home for the last 18 years, so this has been much less of a hardship for me than it has for so many others. My wife and I don’t go out for dinner. I don’t run occasional errands, and we no longer have guests for dinner, although recently we have entertained friends on our porch where we can maintain social distancing for 3 people — with masks.
The most difficult aspect of all of this is not knowing when we will be able to travel safely to see our children. Fortunately in the midst of all this, something positive has been happening.
My morning routine begins about 5:30 a.m. It starts with coffee and the local and national newspapers, followed by time with my journal, and ends with time spent on Facebook. After
that I will either work in the studio or devote some time to writing. This routine has marked the start of my day for way too many years. I rely on it, and am somewhat out of sorts when it is disrupted. Since being sheltered at home, not only has it become more important to my sense of the day ahead, but a few more routines have emerged, each marking the progress of the day. The result is I am very comfortable with my life as it is.
Unencumbered by outside tasks and responsibilities I am in the studio seven days a week. Of course weeks now exist only on the calendar. The days are all the same. I admit that this is a cause for some concern. Am I too comfortable? Is there a risk of dropping out of previous
social and professional commitments and becoming too isolated from the community?
But of all the changes the coronavirus has made in my life, none is more profound than my newly acquired
gift of living for the day at hand. I don’t know if it is the routines I’ve established, the isolation at home, or the freedom from outside commitments, but for the first time I feel the day I’m living is the most important day in my life. The entire day is mine
to design as I see fit. The painting I’m working on
is more important than the ones I may do. Having dinner at our kitchen counter with Patience, whether it is an elegant dish or a sandwich, means more that any dinning out experience we may have in the future. I am fully embedded — mentally and emotionally — in living in the present. Now my future concerns are when is my next doctor’s appointment, and do we have enough pasta for the week ahead.
What did I do to warrant so much good fortune? I had the wisdom in 1983 to ask Patience Coale to marry me. For 37 years she has made it possible for me to be the person I am, and now she provides the support that allows me to thrive during these difficult times.
Bill Renzulli can be reached at email@example.com.