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Running in the highest heat of the day makes me envision a lone cyclist racing through a deserted road in the middle of a desert. The burning heat of the asphalt quickly raises my body temperature enabling me to sweat to my heart’s content. The heavy weight I carry in my heart vanishes in an instant. My body feels like a thousand pounds. The thick fog in my head has already descended down to my heart. I have been noticing the tightness of my chest and the shallowing rhythm of my breath. So I wrote a new prescription for me: Go out running at the hottest time of the day. Run every day, even if it means only ten minutes.
I faithfully followed my guide line. While I look forward to my ten minute run under the 90 degree cloudless sky, July is more than half way over now. Every day, the news gets grimmer and grimmer and I easily lose my calm. So I do the only thing that I can do right now. This small act, this small thing, this quick run in the hottest heat of the day helps me pass my heavy day, one day at a time.
For me, it is my run that carries me through. For my daughter, it is her daily bubble bath. We created a new regime of making our very own DIY bath products. As we pick our own fragrance and color for our bubble bars and fizzy bombs, I can sense a friction of our old way of life. When I had a full control of how I will spend the day, where, and doing what, with whom or alone. When I successfully lorded over our daily schedules to prevent the chaotic flow of events happening by sticking to my daily routines and limiting my social circles. I had a full sense of order most days. Now, everything and everyone vanished while my day is still 24 hours long.
Each day, I struggle to fill the day with meaningful activities. I try my best to incorporate some kind of learning experience into our mundane life in isolation during this unprecedented time of war against virus. Yesterday, I tried to teach my five year old daughter the lesson Anne Frank has left for all of us as we were brushing our teeth. It was the best I could manage to give our current way of existence a meaningful narration. My daughter’s response? “It doesn’t make any sense”. Then she shrugged the whole story off and simply went back to being amazed by the clear blue color and the gel-like texture of her toothpaste (I think she was secretly wondering if she could add the toothpaste to her slime).
And maybe she is right. Maybe I am digging too deep. Maybe, I don’t have to struggle so much to create meaningfulness. Maybe it is already here. Each day we pass in our heathy forms is a miracle that so many people that died have wanted. I can barely run five minutes and without that five-minute run, I will mentally collapse any minute, but at least, I can run and sweat it all out. My legs move. My breath comes constantly whether it is shallow or not. My daughter has a mind that can muse at the way her toothpaste is formed. She is purely happy making a bubble bath bar with simple ingredients and she smells and knows what fragrance is her favorite: Lavender.
Yesterday, we went to a local church to pick up our packet for the upcoming virtual VBS. The church had a small garden adorned with sunflowers and herbs. I discovered lavender bush peaking through the garden fence. It’s lavender! I said. It is lavender! My daughter repeated me with such magical glow in her eyes. She smelled the subtle fragrance of her favorite scent and then I witnessed a deep, knowing smile forming around her mouth. It was a recognition. It was a moment of familiarity. It was the meaningful encounter of the real. It was a moment when a lavender essential oil in a bottle manifested into a real flower in my daughter’s world.
So today, aside from my quick run as my survival tool, I am shopping online for some lavender seeds for the sake of my sanity. Perhaps, it is true that I don’t have to struggle so hard to add meaning to our quiet existence in isolation. Perhaps, all the meaningful things are here already. But, still, I can’t stop searching. I can’t stop digging deeper and deeper into the unknown. I have to continue to create the next chapter even during this time that has seemingly ceased to flow. I want to add more stories to our lives. Because it powers me through. Because the expectation of the joyful discovery ahead makes my present so meaningful.