The Broadway musical, “Rent” has a song entitled “Seasons of Love” which starts off by asking:
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear.
five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure,
Measure a year?
In cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure a year in a life?
(If you do the math, it turns out to be a year (525,600/60 minutes/24 hours= 365 days.)
This past semester I tried a new teaching tool: using a discussion board. For the last posting, I asked my students to reflect on three things they learned in class. Surprisingly, and despite teaching online with its many challenges, my students’ posts were illuminating: They had learned some very valuable and critical things about ethics! I was quite surprised!
This discussion post along with the lyrics of the song got me thinking: What three things have I learned in the last 525,600 minutes. While this pandemic has not yet been quite a year long, it sure seems like it. After a few minutes of reflection, I found that what I had learned over the almost last 525,600 minutes were flexibility, patience and persistence and forgiveness and understanding.
First, I learned to be even more flexible than I had ever thought possible. This year has brought quite a multitude of challenges and the only way to survive was to be very flexible. And closely related to this would be resilience: especially this year, I have definitely needed the ability to “bounce back” and not stay stuck in a rut. (This quality has been the subject of many a webinar on mental health this year, for good reason!)
The second quality – also closely related and two in number- are patience and persistence. Things have not quite turned out the way we all expected or wanted. Especially now- as I write this- Southern California has gone into another “lockdown” which after 9 months of working from my dining room table – is not quite what I wanted. This “lockdown” is expected to last for three weeks or after Christmas. So… lots of patience is called for and staying persistent in doing what is necessary to “stay safe.”
And finally, but certainly not the least is to “be forgiving and understanding.” Each of us is trying the best we can under the most difficult circumstances and so we need to bring forgiveness and understanding to things that happen; mistakes and goofs will happen. We should not beat up ourselves or each other over them. As Thomas Paine wrote in “The Crisis” on December 19, 1776,
“These are the times that try men’s [women’s] souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
And so, too, understanding that this pandemic is quite a trying time for all of us, we should end this year and start the next with flexibility, patience and persistence and forgiveness and understanding. “This too shall pass” so that hopefully, by this time next year, this pandemic will be only a very dim memory.
I want to thank each of you for sustaining my mediation practice through this most difficult year and for being a loyal reader of my blog. Without you, the year would have been even more difficult than it was.
I want to wish each of you a very happy holiday and a most wonderful new year. My most fervent wish for you and your family is that you stay safe and healthy and have a much happier 2021! I sincerely hope that the next 525,600 minutes will be much much better for all of us than the last!
As in the past, I will be taking a “staycation” until the end of the year. I will take up my typing again in January 2021! Stay safe and healthy!
… Just something to think about.
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