Epiphanies from These Pandemic Years (Lazy Quitting)

Whatever I say at this point in the pandemic, it is said with the realization that privilege, luck, and some precautionary measures have all played a role in not yet getting Covid. While the psychological effects of isolation have been different for each and every one of us, introversion played a huge role in my resiliency. This time gave me the final push I needed to embrace who I am – someone who likes people in micro-doses and can be content for long stretches of time on my own. It’s not news to me, but in the past I made an effort to do things and spend time with people with whom I’d simply rather not. I have a partner, a kid away at college, and I’m feeling the quiet desperation of time slipping away. This is all to say that there is no compelling argument for me to be out in the world.

I’ll graduate in three months with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, a few months shy of turning 56. It sounds like a made-up degree, like getting a Doctorate in the Folding of Fitted Sheets or a Bachelor’s in Sleeping at Inappropriate Moments (degrees I also have), but the tuition bill was very, very real. In my twenties I dropped out of grad school midway through a Master’s program in Russian Linguistics. I was haunted by that failure, but even then, I knew it was the right thing to do. Now, just as cognitively I might be deteriorating at the edges, I’m reorienting my entire life in the direction of writing and teaching. The heat is on.

In the middle of everything, my brain chose to give me some clarity of vision. Epiphanies come when we can step away from busy lives, quiet our minds, think about what we keep and what we let go. There’s a lot I’ve decided to stop doing, from consumer practices to volunteering. I’m not sure who I’ll be if I’m not compulsively saying Yes, I’ll do it. I’d like to find out. I’d like to find out how much less I’d purchase if I can’t do it from the comfort of my home with a single click. It’s the uninterrupted focus of the empty nester. Oh? This is who I’ve become? Who do I want to be? And on darker days, is this it?

The funny thing about embracing who I am is that I don’t necessarily want to write about it. I’m enjoying just being and not doing a running commentary on my life. This blog is the only place I’ve done that over the years and it seems, that like the current zeitgeist, it’s turning more and more inward, becoming less and less interesting. Hence, the long periods of time without a new post. I’m not particularly enamored of my own opinions, at least not enough to foist them upon you. So what to write about?

Perhaps curiosity will be my guide. I keep thinking about Socrates’ description of the mind being like an aviary full of birds, with each bird representing some piece of knowledge that we snatch out of the air as we need it. The thing about birds though is that they flourish best when outside of a cage or else the only knowledge one will have is that which is in the cage – in current parlance, an echo chamber. It is maybe the reason why writing is sporadic. I need to set the birds free to see where they take me.

Outside the chickadees have started calling to one another – an early sign of spring even as the next snow storm moves in. I’m daydreaming about gardening, flipping through seed catalogs, and imagining the freedom of no more grad school, no more nonprofit board meetings, fewer distractions. Maybe it’s not the birds I’ll be following. Maybe I am the bird.

15 thoughts on “Epiphanies from These Pandemic Years (Lazy Quitting)

  1. I love this! Congrats on your degree. I’m retiring at the end of this year, and so, like you, I’ll be finding out what a “me” with some free time is like. I can hardly wait! Cheers to us both and new beginnings!


    1. Thanks for the congrats. I’m living in a time of wonder – having my thoughts uninterrupted for hours at a time. I actually read a whole book in a couple of days last week! There are moments of grief/sadness about usefulness, aging, transition etc., but they are fairly quickly supplanted by the joy of time. Wishing you a transition that holds a lot of joyful surprises!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Michelle, so fabulous to see this pop up in my inbox. You know how much I live reading your blogs and this one is no exception. And wow, what a wonderful place you’re in!!! I am loving what I’m reading and what you’re doing and whenever you feel so inclined, I will love reading more of what you’re up to. Congratulations on all of it, including the Masters and the birthday!!


    1. Hi Fransi – thanks for the kind words and congrats. It’s a strange time – discovering that life doesn’t have to always be hard and that it’s okay to sit back for awhile and let ideas simmer. And the reading I am able to do now – I’d almost forgotten what it was like to read for pleasure! Best wishes to you as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks very much Michelle. You have found your purpose and it is so wonderful to see how much at home you are in this life that has chosen you. It is a great feeling to be doing what you are meant to do.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you got what you needed from blogging, and you no longer need it. That’s kind of what happened for me, anyway. I still pop in to read, but I don’t feel a need to write.


    1. Yeah, I’m just not sure at this point. I either have to find a different purpose than the one I had when I started blogging or I have to let it go. On the other hand, with a focus on a late life career, this really is my only platform at the moment, which means as a method of promotion, it is definitely not being put to good use. Just need to mull it over a bit more.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It has been, surprisingly, a fairly stable platform and suitable for longer form writing. I made a game attempt at Twitter, but it lacks the time and pacing needed for genuine connection. Plus, could not read long before the rage serotonin hit. Can absolutely see how people become addicted to it. I’ve been here off and on since 2012 and it’s the perfect pace for me. Thanks for you kind and encouraging words!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t detect anything lazy in this post, or any kind of quitting in a negative sense. It looked to me like regular human development. Anyway, congrats on your degree and evading Covid.


  5. Hi, Michelle, it’s always good to see a post from you. Congratulations on the impending completion of your MFA. What a huge accomplishment. Your brain must be swimming in exciting new knowledge and pathways. As for “feeling the quiet desperation of time slipping away,” oh, yes, I can relate! But at the same time, I wonder if that makes it all the more precious. I am through suffering fools.
    One of the (many) gifts of the pandemic was strengthening the skill of saying “no” without needing to explain or justify. No is a very freeing word, and it opens the door to so many truly welcome yeses. Now that it is safer to go out, I find that I don’t especially want or need to. The only things that call to me are nature trails and beach walks. I’ve learned how little I really need to be happy, and since I do not shop on Amazon unless there is absolutely no other option, we learned to go without for a couple of years, and have no wish to go back.
    I’ll look forward to seeing you here when I see you, and knowing that when I don’t, it’s because you are following your own inner guidance. Happy flying….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Donna. You’re fortunate not to have gotten the click-and-shop bug, which is all the more appealing to me since I don’t like to shop in stores. However, your point about realizing how little you need to be happy is much of what I’m experiencing. Joy, it turns out, doesn’t require you to be a Prime member. I am hungry for some outdoor time in the garden – just a month or so away!


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