Roll With It: Diving into 2021

If you haven’t surfed or gone swimming in the ocean, you may not know the most effective way to get out behind the waves. You can, of course, as many people do, try to jump up over them and swim against them. This is less efficient than diving under the waves and letting the wave itself pull you up behind it.

This concept of “rolling with” helped me transition into becoming a Tennessean. There are now so many Californians who have moved here, I am beginning to see bumper stickers that say “don’t California my Tennessee” and political ads accursing opponents of having “California values.” I left California knowing I left it behind and embraced Tennessee, even as it blew my mind sometimes (see previous posts.) But when it freaked me out, I just decided to roll with it and came to fully enjoy where I am now.

The coronavirus pandemic has been an ugly experience for most, including myself. But when I paused to stop grieving about what has been lost and what I’ve given up, I found some good things have come in the enforced quiet. And I plan to do more of this as pandemic restrictions and panic continue into 2021. These are:

  • Hiking, especially on the Natchez Trace. In California, I was an avid hiker with a group from which I have people who remain dear friends. Nashville has a good hiking group, but less (and more rugged) trails and this group hikes in the evenings rather than mid-day, in often-unpleasant weather, and even now they have to restrict the group’s hiking size. So hiking was up to me and my dog until I was able to join up with them in May, and facilitated by a trail-guide book I’d bought in 2017 from Parnassus Books. Some of the most interesting trails are off parts of the Natchez Trace, a scenic route that runs from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi. Some of them are historic, such as the Native-hunting-trail-turned-travel-route upon which Meriwether Lewis committed suicide. A least one other requires fording a river, so I now have water shoes for just this purpose. I now have new hiking boots and hiking pants and look forward to doing more hiking next year (and with a new group of hiking buddies once we can meet in groups greater than 8).
  • Learning. Living equals learning, but a lot of the lively activities we had going were all cancelled. I have been reading a lot more, and I count myself lucky that our local library allows patrons to come in (wearing a mask and after screening). There are many, many online learning classes, and I’m a particular fan of The Great Courses. As things got quieter, I’ve dived back into my bibliophilic self and I currently in the midst of the latest Longmire novel, a true crime book from my daughter, and a book on urban development. I also have an electronics kit to build from my son and a painting set to encourage my art and drawing. So I have adventures from my mind, even if they are not adventures in person.
  • Personal challenge. In September, several factors inspired me to give myself a spiritual-physical-mental challenge. My Buddhist temple set up a 100-day campaign (it’s an Asian thing, roll with it) to have members join on Zoom and chant for 2 hours a day together with performing our morning and evening practice together. It started at 6 am every day except Sundays, when it started at 8. I found an open-air gym with rigorous workouts that allowed joining by the week. And I swore off consuming meat, dairy, and alcohol. And, oh, how I complained to myself every morning as the alarm went off at 6 am; as my sore muscles screamed; as I poured myself yet another watered-down kombucha even though I wanted a beer. I ended it on December 1 when I told myself I would go into all-our decadence, without workouts, without chanting, eating and drinking all I wanted. It’s December 31 and now I miss my morning “Buddha buddies,” I had my personal trainer friend come over to give me a workout, and a diet Bundaberg ginger ale was a delightful relaxing beverage.

In full 2020 mode, on Christmas day, just as I was putting in gougeres with the Christmas roast, our oven (and stovetop!) completely gave out. And a bombing in Nashville took out AT&T, somewhat affecting our T-Mobile service, as well as downing our 911 center. The rawish gougeres are frozen and may be lost. There will be no apple pie. And our plans for dinner in Nashville the next evening were scrapped.

We rolled with it. Scout brought out cheese and crackers. Peter put the roast into the slow cooker and we had some at the very end of the night. We visited our friends the next evening and had a lively time at their place instead. I have discovered the fun of using UberEats.

Like many I would like life as it was to come back, but I don’t see that in the near future. In the meantime, roll with it. Don’t fight the wave, just get behind it and take on a different view from behind.

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