Just over a year ago, my husband and I were in Toronto, there to accept his Volunteer of the Year award from Sail Canada. We flew in a plane. We stayed in a hotel. We dined in restaurants. We enjoyed what would be our last indoor live music event for more than a year. And we attended the Sail Canada awards reception and banquet. It all seems like another life now, a different reality. The idea of being in a room full of people, shaking hands, taking food from trays circulating among the guests, sitting shoulder to shoulder at dinner, all seem impossible now. A year ago, it was just life as we knew it, a life filled with people contact.
Even then, the whispers were there. The virus had arrived in Canada. We wiped down our seating area on the airplane with sanitizer, not something we’d done before. We were conscious of crowded spaces, choosing bus and train seats at a distance from others wherever possible. We used a sleeve when opening doors and a knuckle for pushing the buttons in the elevator. And we regularly used hand sanitizer for the first time in our lives.
By the time we were home from our five-day trip, things had escalated, and just a few days later, Canada closed its borders to international travel and provinces went into lockdown. It was the beginning of what we expected to be a few months of sacrifice for the greater good.
It’s been a challenging year for all and devastating for many. I’m one of the lucky ones. In our close circle of friends and family, we’ve been physically untouched by the virus, livelihoods have remained mostly intact, and we’re all coping with the restrictions and isolation.
As a mostly-retired, country-dwelling introvert, I’m well-suited to the circumstances that have been imposed on us this past year. I walk my dog in open fields. I care for my horses. I watch the birds at the feeder outside my window. Life in the country hasn’t changed. Back last spring, it was only when I left the farm that the strangeness of it all came flooding in—the masks, the distancing, the empty grocery store shelves, the closed shops and restaurants. But out here on the prairie, life continued on untouched.
As a person who enjoys a simple life, having fewer choices isn’t a bad thing. In this past year, I have rediscovered a sense of contentment with my life and my home that had been eluding me.
As we walked the open road and fields from our acreage last spring without having to maintain six feet of distance from people we didn’t pass, when we put our hands in the soil and planted a garden for our summer vegetables, when I spent an afternoon grooming and riding my horse, or an evening around a roaring fire in the front yard, I remembered the long list of things I love about this place. I felt like one of luckiest people on earth. No wanting, no uncertainty. I had rediscovered the key to happiness …
As much as I look forward to greeting people with a hug or a handshake or sitting down for a meal with good friends, I am apprehensive about the return to “normal” life. Will that lack of contentment return with the choices? Or have I discovered a truth that will stay with me no matter the outside circumstances?
I’m really hoping for the latter. I’ll let you know.