all of the selves we Have ever been
How Long is Temporary?
The sun is shining!
It fills the sky with light and hope. I head to the bike path for a walk. This narrow stretch of asphalt has become a lifeline while I practice social distancing. Today, the grass alongside the trail is sprinkled with dandelions. I am happy to see signs of a life force that will not be denied, a bit of nature whose schedule cannot be delayed or interrupted by the coronavirus.
After 15 or 20 minutes of walking, I reach a corner. The signpost says “Temporary Trail End.” I realize that sign has been there for several years now. I wonder, how long is temporary? That is the question on everyone’s mind right now.
I turn right at the corner and see the flipside of the “Temporary Trail End” marker. The words on the back welcome me to the beginning of the trail! I am reminded of a truth--endings and beginnings often merge. Which is it, beginning or end? Depends on where you stand and which signs you read along the way.
Whether we are facing a beginning or an ending, it takes time to determine if either will be temporary or permanent. There are happenings that pass so quickly that they are fleeting and cannot even be called temporary like that pain that stabs you awake in the night. Is it a heart attack? Appendicitis? And then, quick as it came, it passes. You reassure yourself that it was probably that burrito you ate at dinner, and you go back to sleep forgetting all about it by morning. Other times, something fleeting grabs your attention and won’t let go like that tinge of pink in the toilet bowl. Happened once, but not again. Still, you make a doctor’s appointment, and you are glad you did. Heeding the message proves lifesaving.
There are the things we thought would be temporary but became permanent. Maybe we thought this purchase would be our “starter” home, and we live there a lifetime. We put off going to college in order to work and save some money, and then we retire with neither savings nor a diploma. And then there are the deals we entered into as permanent, but they did not last. Time-share purchases, weight loss programs and marriages are among them.
Time plays tricks on us. In the space between temporary and permanent, beginning and ending, life happens, factors converge. We must make way for the unexpected. It is up to us if the change turns out to be for the better or the worse, and sometimes it is mighty painful while we make up our minds.
It is clear now that the coronavirus is not fleeting. Like the sign on the bike trail, it may be a very long temporary. In the meantime, there are so many indications of an unstoppable life force among us, so many acts of kindness, generosity and heroism. They encourage me like the sunshine and the dandelions; they make the path more enjoyable, more hopeful, even though I am weary.
Nonetheless, I remain eager for the day when I can see the signpost that says this temporary trail ends. I look forward to turning the corner and heading back into a new beginning.
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