When I was growing up Sunday’s were quiet days. There were no brunch plans or afternoons spent at the gym. There was church, Sunday dinner and Ed Sullivan on television. Blue laws, even in New York City were still in effect, which kept most businesses closed with the exception of the bakery, the bagel store, and the occasional Chinese restaurant.
There was not much to do except be. It was sort of the way life is now, except then it was choice and now COVID-19 has forced us into it.
Every day feels like Sunday
Now every day feels like those Sundays, as though I have been transported back in time to the sixties when there was no such thing as Netflix or Youtube to fill the empty space or smartphones to text funny GIFs to my friends. I half expect to see my father sitting in his chair, smoking his cigarettes and listening to his Greek Bouzouki records playing on a HiFi stereo system while he waited for dinner to be ready.
There is a quiet now that at times feels welcome like those Sundays were and at other times downright scary. No one is rushing to get to the place they have deemed important. For right now, everyone is where they need to be. Sheltering in place. Staying home. Practicing social distance. Wondering how much longer before COVID-19 is under control and what the world will look like when we get to the other side of it.
“The next best thing to being there”
The old Bell Telephone used to run ads proclaiming the phone as the next best thing to being there. They were encouraging long-distance calling which was cheaper on Sundays. Since this whole thing started I am remembering just how true that slogan was. Granted I spend a lot of time on Zoom these days, but I have also found myself overly grateful when the phone rings, happy to stop whatever I am doing to engage in human conversation and catching up with people I have not spoken to in ages. There are no numbers to avoid. Apparently even the telemarketers have stopped their annoying intrusions.
I don’t remember ever trying to fill the time on those Sundays or worrying about keeping busy. I fed that time with reading and questioning and dreaming about what I wanted my life to look like or at least what I wanted the week ahead to look like.
Now I find myself questioning the life I have been living, the friendships I have not given the attention they deserve, questioning the society we have created, the priority given to the bottom line in business above all else, all the things we thought were supposed to work and are not, how antiquated we have been in so many respects for a culture that thinks it is so technologically advanced. Just yesterday Governor Phil Murphy put out a call for COBOL programmers, a computer language that everyone thought became obsolete in the late eighties, but apparently is the system used for the state’s unemployment insurance system.
As much as my spiritual self knows I need to surrender to what is and stay in the moment, that there are things that are beyond my control right now, I find myself anticipating the Monday I wake up to when this is over. I wonder what will it look like and what can I do while I’m waiting so that I can make it a better Monday than the ones that came before.