How does seeing this image make you feel?
I painted this on 12/6/17 in one of my first art notebooks before I started adding the date next to my signature. It is one of my favorite pieces of all time.
Life is constantly changing and I am learning and growing so much all the time. But in ALL the uncertainty of life, there is ONE thing I know with absolute certainty – I am going to die. So are you. So is everyone. I don’t know when, or where, or how, but it IS going to happen.
Sure I can eat right, exercise, minimize stress to lower my odds of dying from heart disease or cancer. I can avoid being on my phone while driving to lower my odds of dying from a car accident. But I can’t control EVERYTHING. A drunk driver could hit me on my way to work. A routine flight could crash. I could have a random brain bleed and die in my sleep.
Death motivates me to LIVE while I am alive. I don’t have full control over how I exit this world, but I have power and ownership over how I act and exist while WITHIN this world.
One way I am acting with all this COVID-19 craziness is STAYING. AT. HOME. I work night shift at the hospital a week at a time and am “essential,” so I get to leave my place and do my part. But during this week off, I wanted to see how long I could last. I was going to the beach early in the mornings when no one else was there while I could, before they banned it (you can now get up to a $1000 fine, 6 months in jail, and a misdemeanor!). I live in a studio apartment without a balcony or yard. I haven’t walked out my front door since I got home from the beach Tuesday morning. I made it this far. I don’t plan on walking out until Monday afternoon to do a few errands before I start another work week. The only possible way I could have spent MORE time at home is if I came home straight from work and didn’t leave until heading to work again. I may try that my next week off, since the beaches are closed.
I share this because I am proud of my accomplishment, and because I wanted to set an example that it CAN be done. My studio apartment is basically one small-ish room with a closet and bathroom. We don’t normally have much control over death. But with COVID-19, staying home DIRECTLY INFLUENCES DEATH. You DO have some control over life and death right now. Staying home LITERALLY. SAVES. LIVES.
Living with just myself, like anything in life, has many pros and cons. Of course I get lonely, but I’m also grateful that I don’t live with/therefore possibly expose my family to anything I may potentially be carrying. Single people have their challenges right now. Couples and families have their challenges right now. EVERYONE has challenges staying home. I saw this meme, something like, “Our grandparents were called to war; we are being called to sit on the couch.” No, this isn’t as “difficult” as being deployed, but I acknowledge that being at home – either by yourself or with your partner/family – is NOT easy. No matter what unique challenges you may be facing, the end result for all of us is the same – STAYING HOME SAVES LIVES.
I get to sleep at night for one more time before I go back to the hospital and play my part in this battle against COVID-19. When I am not at the hospital, I am literally “JUST” AT HOME. California is about 2 weeks into this shelter-in-place. I know you’re itching to go outside… I am aching so badly to play outside on an adventure right now. But I invite you to look at how you can do EVEN MORE. Do you really need to go to the grocery store twice a week? I’d bet you can get it down to ONE visit. Do you really need to check your mail? I’d bet you can COMBINE that outing with your grocery store day. Do you really need to meet up with your friend, even if you are staying >6 feet apart? I’d bet they also have Zoom or FaceTime available on their devices.
I know this stuff is hard. I know this is an unprecedented time. I know you miss eating at restaurants, drinking at bars, relaxing at the beach, going to the movies, and gathering at the park. I miss hiking and backpacking so much. Let’s do MORE to get this thing over with as quickly as possible and with as little damage as possible. I really look forward to the day I can go back to my gym, joyfully HUG everybody, and drop my weights on the floor again. Let’s tackle this enemy TOGETHER so we can do the things that we WANT to do!