I often think back to March, the last month of New Hampshire snow. I remember ending winter term and vacationing in Maui, Hawaii, where I first heard that my school year would end abruptly. In Hawaii, the gyms and restaurants were open, people strolled on the beach without masks, and our hotel remained largely unaffected. I felt like I was in a euphoric oasis where everyone was safe. Soon, the news hit the vacationers, and I began seeing a slow change from normalcy to something quite unexpected—a masked, distanced world, cold as last month’s snow that I had escaped from for the final time.
When I think back to March, I count the months on my fingers and think of how fast time flew by. Nothing has changed since then. It feels like the days have drifted by and I haven’t saved the world or cured cancer or done anything extraordinary. At least I now know where I’m going to college. I can do a few more push-ups. I’ve started my yoga teacher training. I’ve even found out that I can resume the rest of my gap year in January. I can go to Madagascar, Costa Rica, Australia, and South Africa. Right now, there’s a silver lining, even though I’ve been waiting patiently through tumult and uncertainty.
I’ve spent this past week at my Grandfather’s retreat center in Northern California. It’s a large, picturesque home, overlooking rolling hills and the distance Pacific Ocean. I drove up there on a scorching hot Tuesday morning and passed through three fields burnt to the ground. I spent most of the week indoors because the air quality made it hard to breathe, and the sky outside was tinged yellow, throwing strange hues atop the Buddhist temples I knew as home. When I could find Wifi, I scrolled through articles on the wildfires. Some were close, eighty miles away.
Being with family in these uncertain times was both comforting and concerning. What if a fire passed through our community? And I lost all of them? I thought of this as I sat across from my aunties and Grandpa, still somewhat at peace with the way this all turned out.
Right now, if it weren’t for COVID-19, I’d be trekking the Druk Path in Bhutan. I reflect on that a lot. How I missed out on unlocking the door to my heritage.
Over the last month, I’ve traveled up and down California several times. I swam in the cold, clear Lake Tahoe waters and paddle boarded across emerald green coves. I biked through forests and small towns, over sand and on dirt paths. I took care of my four month old bunny named Dior who steals Lucky Charms from my bowl (she’s a diabetic, I’m sure).
The silver lining from this pandemic resides in how I see things now. I’m actually okay with things not going to plan. I trust the process.