Covid-19 is like bad weather

 “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” * 

So wrote British fellwalker Alfred Wainwright in his 1973 book A Coast to Coast Walk. The Northern England walk that he devised back then is still oft-traveled today, passing through the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Dales, and Lake District National Park. It is stunning country — we love it, and I highly recommend a visit! 

Wainwright’s point, of course, is to meet the outdoors, whatever the weather, wherever you are — in the Yorkshire Dales, in the big city, in the suburbs, or in a sleepy farming village. Don’t let it drive you to huddling indoors and keeping to yourself. 

This Covid-19 feels a lot like bad weather. We keep ourselves indoors, hatches down. Of course we need to be safe. But taken to the extreme, we may in actuality be sabotaging our own health and mental wellness. 

Yesterday, I screamed at my kids. I threw a temper tantrum that rivals that of any two-year-old. Why? It was such a tiny thing: I woke up to find my laptop unplugged with zero battery. The kids have had use of the laptop and ipad for any of their crisis-school-at-home needs, but there is one cardinal rule: plug them back in after use, to be sure of a full charge for the next person. 

After weeks of patiently putting the right priorities first, doing my best not to let these shelter-in-place adjustments get to me, our newly-birthed travel business had gathered a bit of dust. Yesterday, I had hoped to wake up and get a few hours in for work. But before I could fully wake up to my espresso, I was already screaming. There had been a slow boil under my surface, and I hadn’t realized it. The lid had blown off, and all the steam came rushing out. 

Fast-forward a few hours, shamefaced, I apologized to Mike and the kids. They didn’t deserve my negativity and, well, my ugly. Mama is more stressed than she realized, but that does not excuse her behavior. Please forgive me? 

My family is great. They forgave me, and hopefully they saw what it is to own one’s misbehaviors and make things right. 

But this is the effect, in no small part, of NOT GETTING OUTSIDE. Of saying “the Covid-19 weather is bad.” Yes, it is bad. And it is necessary to navigate this with as much wisdom as possible. But let’s remember that isolation and constantly dwelling indoors is not what man was made for, so it’s normal that we would be suffering from the effects of it. 

Our family has no small amount of wanderlust – we love to explore. The stresses of this uncertain, strange new at-home, never-get-out reality are building up. 

So this morning, after a zoom session of Sunday school for the kids, we intentioned to step outside. We bundled up and took a light-hearted family walk together. Mindful of the “bad weather” that is Covid-19, we changed course with an extra-friendly wave when we saw others out walking too. We headed to family friends for a game of glass-door pictionary and charades. We on the outside, they on the inside. Oh, the giggles and the joy! 

Wainwright also once said, “The precious moments of life are too rare….. We should hoard them as a miser hoards his gold, and bring them to light and rejoice over them often. We should all of us have a treasury of happy memories to sustain us… to be stars shining through the darkness.” 

We hold on to today’s precious moments and outdoor wanderings, however limited they may have been. My globe-trotting friends, big travels might not be possible today. Or tomorrow. Or the day after. But they will soon come again. So for now, let’s learn together how to create the happy memories — regardless of geography, regardless of the bad weather. 

* This quote is not original to Mr. Wainwright, but has actually existed as a delightful cultural norm all over Scandinavia for generations. A topic for another blog post! 

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