Friday, April 17, 2020

Making the Most of It

If you know anything about Seattle, you know that it rains a lot here, some 150 days annually to be precise, and twice as many days are overcast. So when the sun is out like it has been for the last couple of weeks, we all go outside. Or at least normally we do. The fact that there were so few people in Volunteer Park yesterday, even mid-week, is all the information a native needs to know that something is terribly wrong.

We've kept our parks open, for the most part, only closing the "gathering places," like playgrounds, sports facilities, and picnic shelters. The lawns of Volunteer Park, which would have typically been jammed with people, were sprinkled with well-spaced sun-bathers, most of whom appeared to be unemployed young people. They were showing their skin and reading books. There were some guys throwing a football back and forth. A couple other people were using the empty wading pool as an impromptu fencing piste. There were frisbees being tossed, music being listened to, and naps being taken. I didn't see anyone looking at their phones: I'm sick of my screen being my primary window on the world right now and I imagine I'm not alone. There were a few families out with their children, just sitting in the grass while the kids gathered the tiny yellow and white flowers that, in contrast to the humans, were abloom in bunches.

It was a quiet day, even as the rest of the natural world was singing its noisy ode to spring. We've been living like this for over a month now. My emotions about the situation swing wildly, from anger to delight, from worry to joy. Lately, however, I've found myself settling in more and more. I'm not happy about it, but I guess I'm coming around to trying to make the most of it, like these pasty Seattleites were doing, taking their pay in the form of time to pursue activities one often neglects, like laying on one of the lawns at Volunteer Park.

I imagine that's where most of us will eventually land in all of this: we'll settle into a simpler existence for a time, making the most of it. That's what I've been doing with these long walks of mine over and around the hills and waters of our city, making the most of it. Since the shops and restaurants and theaters are off the table, since we can't gather with friends and family, we're left with our hobbies and idle time pursuits, the things that we always imagine ourselves doing with any of the notional free time we see in our futures, but that are too easily put off until after running those vital errands and catching up on social media. Now there are no vital errands and social media has been revealed to be the same damn thing over and over. For many of us there aren't even jobs to occupy us.

So we make the most of it: sun-bathing, reading, playing catch, picking flowers, deeply listening to albums, walking, dozing. I took some snapshots of the lawns dotted with people making the most of it because I don't want to forget this. I really don't. As the human world re-opens I don't want to forget that this is what we should be doing every day: making the most of it.


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